Can we please stop worrying about apple juice? Please?

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Last week, we watched incredulously as the very popular TV personality, Dr. Mehmet Oz, a former physician, continued to insist that there may be unsafe levels of arsenic in the apple juice parents are serving to their children. Despite the FDA and other experts stepping in to clarify that Dr. Oz was confusing organic with inorganic arsenic, and that to mix the two up, as he did (intentionally, it seems, since we assume he took high school chemistry), would be irresponsible and misleading, he went ahead and did it anyway. Worse, surveys suggest that the celebrity doctor convinced a lot of his viewing public to throw out their juice. Now, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is calling on the FDA to set arsenic standards for imported juice concentrates and to increase inspection of concentrates from countries such as China that have been known to use inorganic arsenic in their pesticides.

The senator made no mention of last week s apple juice fiasco, but the timing of his statement with the Dr. Oz scare seems more savvy than coincidental. ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, whose patience was tried by Dr. Oz s claims, was not impressed. It surprises me that Schumer picked up on this story, after it was so thoroughly discredited, she says. There s simply no indication that the current standards are inadequate.

However, Sen. Schumer pointed to the FDA s 2008 finding of elevated levels of inorganic arsenic in imported pear juice a finding that prompted the agency to issue an import alert barring such shipments from specific Chinese producers and to acknowledge that surveillance of heavy metals in fruit juices from all countries is warranted.

ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava, while appalled by the inaccuracies of Dr. Oz s claims about apple juice, thinks that heightened inspections of imports might not be such a bad idea. There s a history of such contamination from Chinese imports, she notes. Any time someone wants to look more closely at the levels of inorganic arsenic or other adulterants in imported Chinese food products, I won t argue with them.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom adds, It would seem that, given the multitude of problems in this country, Senator Schumer might want to focus on something even remotely useful. There is no danger from apple juice. Period. I have to wonder whether the Senator is ignorant of the science, or merely ignoring it in order to make headlines on a slow news day.