Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

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Dr. Oz is at it again. On Tuesday, his Dr. Oz Show warned parents that the apple juice they re giving their children may be harmful. Apparently, the celebrity doctor s television show staff arranged to have several samples of store-bought apple juice tested for arsenic, and found that the arsenic levels in some brands were higher than others. The doctor went on from there to warn parents about alleged dangers from these minuscule amounts of arsenic.

Thankfully, the FDA was quick to point out the good doctor s willful disregard of the science on this subject. Soon after Dr. Oz s on-air juice exposé, an agency spokeswoman explained the difference between inorganic and organic arsenic: While ingestion of significant quantities of the former can be fatal, the organic form is essentially harmless. It turns out that Dr. Oz s intrepid team had tested only for the total amount of arsenic, failing to differentiate between the two varieties and their relative levels in the juice. As FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Yao pointed out, the agency has established a maximum level of arsenic acceptable in foods and beverages (23 parts per billion); when that level is reached, the agency re-tests to specifically measure inorganic arsenic. Dr. Oz either was not aware of, or did not wish to acknowledge, this crucial technicality.

Apparently, Dr. Oz thinks any publicity is good publicity, ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross observes. The unfortunate thing is that the majority of his viewers will believe his irresponsible claims, leading a great number of parents to devote their time and energy to worrying about this completely false alarm. Meanwhile, there are so many other, worthwhile child safety issues they actually should be concerned about.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom adds, Dr. Oz should follow the yellow brick road back to the cardiac surgery department at New York Presbyterian Hospital. At least he knows what he s talking about there.

Kudos, however, to ABC News Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Bessor, who publicly confronted Dr. Oz about his latest claims. He compared Dr. Oz s apple juice scare to yelling fire in a movie theater, noting that there was no truth to the doctor s irresponsible allegations.