FDA to Limit Arsenic in Apple Juice

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has begun the process of setting limits on the level of arsenic allowed in apple juice. Apple juice with levels of arsenic above the “action level” of 10 parts per billion (ppb), the same level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for arsenic in drinking water, may face removal from the market and/or legal action.

Inorganic arsenic is both naturally occurring and a residual effect of arsenic-containing pesticides. The levels of arsenic in apple juice are generally low; in 2012, the FDA released findings that 95% of apple juice samples tested were below 10 ppb total arsenic, and 100% of the samples were below 10 ppb for inorganic arsenic, the carcinogenic form of arsenic. The action limit is geared towards the “occasional lots” of apple juice exceeding 10 ppb.
In a press release, FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. said that “[t]he FDA is committed to ensuring the safety of the American food supply and to doing what is necessary to protect public health. . . We have been studying this issue comprehensively, and based on the agency’s data and analytical work, the FDA is confident in the overall safety of apple juice for children and adults.”
The agency will accept public comments on the proposed action level and the risk assessment for 60 days.
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