DR. KESTNER: Arsenic In Apple Juice Stirs Concerns
DR. MARK KESTNER, Guest Columnist
Sunday, June 17, 2012 5:31 am
Recently, a controversy was ignited after television’s Dr. Oz revealed that testing of many apple juice products being sold in America contained a level of arsenic higher than what is permitted to be present in drinking water.
Arsenic is present in what are known as organic and inorganic forms in the juice.
Organic arsenic is present in trace amounts in the soils of various regions, so some trace amounts will inevitably be in food products.
It is the inorganic form of arsenic that is creating the controversy.
According to Dr. Oz and other concerned groups, the inorganic arsenic is a direct result of the apples being grown in countries that still use pesticides containing the chemical.
The primary country in question is China, where American food producers turn for more than two-thirds of the nation’s apple juice supply.
Arsenic is a potent poison.
It has been found that arsenic buildup in the food chain causes illness, such as cancer.
For children, the risk of becoming sick from consuming contaminated juice is even greater.
Although it was once widely used to prevent pests from destroying valuable cash crops, arsenic has long been banned in the United States for safety and health reasons.
However, now that food companies are importing large amounts of produce from countries that do not abide by American pesticide laws, concern over the presence of these contaminants is once again becoming an issue.
Although the food industry insists that the imports must be monitored for safety issues, the widespread importation of food creates greater risk compared to monitoring those originating from the United States.
Besides the concerns consumers have about the quality of imported foods, there is also the issue of the economic impact on American food producers.
It doesn’t seem reasonable to insist that American regulators restrict the use of certain pesticides for safety reasons, yet broadly accept imports that have been grown in countries where the use of such banned chemicals is widespread.
Domestic food regulations necessarily increase production costs for American growers and increases the economic disadvantages compared to imports.
Given these facts, there is growing concern the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been yielding too easily to pressure from the food industry.
Either the use of these chemicals is safe, or it is not.
It is completely illogical to insist American producers adhere to higher standards while allowing widespread imports of products that have been grown using these chemicals – all while insisting to American consumers that the products are safe.
So, which arm of the federal government is telling the truth?