Push for federal arsenic standard for juice

WASHINGTON - After Consumer Reports found 10 percent of sampled fruit juices contained arsenic levels above what is considered safe for drinking water in the U.S., Sen. Amy Klobuchar pushed the Food and Drug Administration to quickly consider an arsenic standard for fruit juice.

Thursday, the FDA agreed to look at new safety standard for arsenic.

A recent study by the Consumer Reports tested samples of popular grape and apple juices and found 10 percent of them contained inorganic arsenic levels higher than those considered safe for drinking water, which the FDA has set at 10 parts per billion.

“If a chemical isn’t safe enough to be in our drinking water supply, then it certainly isn’t safe enough to be in the juices we’re giving our children.” Klobuchar said. “It’s alarming that popular juices our children consume may contain levels of inorganic arsenic – a known carcinogen – that exceed federal drinking water standards. I urge the FDA to take action to issue strong safety standards to ensure the safety and health of our kids.”

Unlike organic arsenic, which is not considered harmful, the inorganic arsenic found in the study is a known carcinogen and can accumulate in children’s bodies over time. In addition to increasing the risk of cancer, it may also increase the risk of children developing high blood pressure, diabetes and reproductive problems.

Consumer Reports found 45 percent of children ages three to five drink at least 7 ounces of juice a day -- more than the amount recommended by pediatricians.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Klobuchar urged the agency to quickly investigate the report’s findings and consider issuing strong standards for arsenic in juice.



Dear Dr. Hamburg:

Thank you for your agency’s efforts to help keep our nation’s food supply safe. I write to you today about a recent study by Consumer Reports, which investigated arsenic levels in popular fruit juices and found that 10 percent of the tested juices had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards. In light of these alarming findings, I urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expedite its current investigation of this issue and carefully consider strong standards for arsenic in juice.

The FDA works hard to ensure that our food supply meets safety standards. However, when contaminated food is allowed to reach consumers, public trust in the integrity of our food supply is undermined. I understand that the very juices our children consume could contain levels of inorganic arsenic – a known carcinogen – that exceed federal drinking-water standards. According to the Consumer Reports study, thirty-five percent of children five and younger drink juice in quantities that exceed pediatricians’ recommendations. Chronic exposure to high levels of arsenic in fruit juice could increase the risk of various cancers and high blood pressure, diabetes, and reproductive problems.

Currently, there is not a federal standard for arsenic in juice. I appreciate your willingness to look into this issue and urge the FDA to consider strong safety standards for inorganic arsenic to ensure the safety of juice and the public health of all Americans. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Amy Klobuchar

United States Senator