You May Be Pouring Something Dangerous Into Your Child's Juice Glass

6:34 PM, Nov 30, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Zoe Hamilton limits how much juice she allows her daughters to drink.  She's concerned about the empty calories.

But, there are other serious reasons for concern.  Consumer Reports tested 88 samples of apple and grape juice and found both arsenic and lead.

"We think that's especially important for children whose young small bodies are growing and who are much more vulnerable to those exposures based on the frequency of how much they drink juice, " says Urvashi Rangan.

Ten percent of the juice samples had arsenic levels above what's allowed in drinking water, specifically a type called inorganic arsenic which raises the risk of cancer.

And 25 percent of the juice samples had more lead than what's allowed in bottled water.  Consumers found it jarring.

"That's not a very good thing.  I would not be happy about that, and I would not purchase it any longer," shopper Susie Burkes says.

Ari Brennan says, "That's crazy. I would never have guessed it.  Arsenic or anything would be in there.  You definitely don't want to be drinking that."

The government has rules about arsenic and lead in drinking water but for now those limits don't apply to fruit juices.

The Food and Drug Administration says it's confident in the overall safety of apple juice. 

But since some samples do contain a higher level of arsenic, the FDA says "It's expanding surveillance activities... to help determine if a guidance level can be established."

Consumer Reports' Rangan says, "We think the FDA should move swiftly to put guidance in place followed by standards for arsenic and lead juices."

The consumer advocacy group says the best advice for parents is to do what Zoe does and limit how much juice your children drink.

Arsenic In Juice: How Much Is Too Much?

So here's what you can do to reduce your exposure to inorganic arsenic:

  • Avoid giving infants under six months any type of juice
  • Children up to age six should not consume more than four to six ounces a day
  • Older children should not drink more than 8 to 12 ounces a day
  • Diluting juice with distilled or purified water can help parents achieve these goals. 
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