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FDA’s proposed limits on lead in fruit juices leave vulnerable children at risk

Consumers Reports calls on FDA to set lower limits which its tests show are feasible 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Limits proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today on the amount of lead allowed in fruit juices are too high and would leave children vulnerable to serious health issues, according to Consumer Reports.  Exposure to lead can harm a child’s health and cause damage to the brain and nervous system, and lead to learning and behavioral problems.

The FDA issued draft guidance establishing a 10 parts per billion (ppb) action level for lead in apple juice and 20 ppb for all other fruit juices.  Consumer Reports previously called on the agency to set a 1 ppb limit, which CR tests showed most manufacturers were already achieving.

“The FDA’s proposed limits fall far short of the protection children need from the dangers posed by lead in fruit juices,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports.  “Most manufacturers are already meeting the limits proposed by the FDA and CR’s tests show that much lower levels of lead in fruit juices are feasible.  The FDA should be doing all it can to protect vulnerable children from the dangers of lead exposure by setting lower limits we know are achievable.”

In 2018, Consumer Reports tested 45 popular fruit juices sold across the country—including apple, grape, pear, and fruit blends—and found elevated levels of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, and/or lead in 21 (47 percent) of them.  CR’s tests also showed that it is possible for manufacturers to sharply reduce the lead in their juices.  More than half (53 percent) of the products CR tested had levels of 1ppb or less.  Only two juices – Welch’s 100% Juice With Antioxidant Superberry and Welch’s 100% Grape Juice, Concord Grape – had average lead levels higher than 5 ppb.

Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org, 415-902-9537