The FDA announce recently that they monitor arsenic levels in apple juice 10 parts per billion (ppb) is the new ‘action level.’ Now, it seems to me that there shouldn’t be any arsenic in apple juice, but as it turns out, arsenic occurs naturally in the environment in very small amounts, and this inorganic form is not particularly concerning. Most parents aren’t interested in the biochemistry of arsenic, but when it’s made into an organic form, in pesticides for example… that’s the stuff that kills you.
Arsenic containing pesticides were widely used up until the 1970’s. Those chemicals, once in the environment, can linger in the soil for a long time. That’s why pesticide (organic) arsenic may be showing up in apple juice. This scenario is one reason I support organic farmers by buying their produce whenever I can.
The AAP reminds parents that limiting juice is a good idea for lots of reasons, and I whole-heartedly agree. Milk and water are the best beverage choices for children, and juice should be an occasional treat. Soft drinks should be reserved for adults without better sense to drink something healthier.
So what’s a mother to do? Simple. Have kids eat the apple and skip the juice. Whenever you can, choose organic produce, and try to eat whatever’s in season. As a mother, it takes a great deal of effort to keep fresh fruits and veggies in the fridge and to offer them frequently throughout the day to my family. As a physician, I will tell you that it is the best preventative medicine I insist on for my own children, and they’re totally worth the time and energy it takes. The take-home message is this: skip the apple juice altogether; eat organic apples and drink water, instead.
Gayle Schrier Smith, MD