First it was chicken, now it’s apple juice. Arsenic levels in our food supply, either via drug-filled feed for CAFO livestock or pesticide in Chinese orchards, epitomize the regulation problems both within and outside the United States.
How much is too much when it comes to using toxic chemicals used to kill bacteria (and promote poultry growth) and keep away pests? They have clearly entered the food chain, including a popular juice that kids drink — Mott’s Apple Juice — as shown in new test results. A sample of the juice contained 55 parts per billion of arsenic, surpassing the EPA tolerance limit of 10 parts per billion. According to Judy Braiman, executive director of the Empire State Consumer Project (co-sponsor of the testing along with GAP coalition partner Food & Water Watch), “this is not the first time high levels of arsenic have been found in apple juice.” Yet the FDA doesn’t even have a tolerance level for arsenic and other heavy metals in juice, though the product contained more than five times the level of arsenic allowed in drinking water.
The fact that China provides the bulk of apple juice consumed in the United States (70%!) is not so surprising, but not so comforting either. Arsenic-based pesticides are apparently widely used in Chinese agriculture, and with what little regulation the FDA undertakes of food imports, of course the actions of our trading partners are going to impact American consumers (whether or not their practices are considered illegal here at home). FIC has already blogged about the lack of oversight and stigma whistleblowers face in China and the threat it poses to us in the states. The tainted apple juice is more visible proof.
Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.