TODAY | November 30, 2011
>>> alarming new questions over the safety of your kids' favorite juices. in september, dr. mehmet oz ignited a firestorm with his studies. " consumer reports " is out with research of its own and appears to black the claims. tom costello, good morning to you.
>> the magazine tested almost 100 samples of apple and grape juice and found that 10% had total arsenic levels higher than federal drinking water standards for arsenic. the latest study from " consumer reports " may scare some parents about the safety of apple juice . the magazine is raising concern about arsenic in both apple and grape juice , of the 88 samples tested by " consumer reports ," 10% had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking water standards. unlike water, there are no federal limits for juice.
>> it's a product that everybody feeds their children and infants, and i don't understand why there could possibly be such a thing in something so natural.
>> if it's to the point where it's causing harm to her development, definitely, i would stop.
>> reporter: this isn't the first time apple juice has been in the headlines.
>> i'm worried about it as a father of four.
>> reporter: in september, dr. oz announced findings from his own study of arsenic levels in apple juice .
>> some of the best known brands in america have arsenic in their apple juice .
>> reporter: an independent lab hired by the dr. oz show found one-third of the tested samples had arsenic levels higher than what the epa allows in drinking water . the fda took issue with dr. oz's findings saying the study did not differentiate between the two types of arsenic, organic and inorganic. now " consumer reports " says its tests do make a distinction, adding "most of the arsenic" it found was inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen. the fda insisted arsenic is safe.
>> in our testing that lot has a small amount of arsenic in it, it would be no concern whatsoever.
>> reporter: the fda still stands by that but in a statement to nbc news it now says it's conducting more test to determine if a guidance level can be established that would relus consumers' exposure to arsenic in apple juice . the juice products association says it's committed to following federal guidelines as it has for decades, adding comparing arsenic in apple juice to water is not appropriate. regulatory agencies have set lower thresh holds for drinking water than food and other beverages because people consume larger amounts of water. this is important, the fda has said that the level of concern for arsenic in apple juice is 23 parts per billion , 23, only one of the grape juices tested by " consumer reports " exceeded that level, none of the apple juices radio etched that level. by comparison the fda 's limit for water is ten parts per billion . " consumer reports " does not suggest erasing juice from your child's diet. the american academy of pediatrics suggested diluting and limiting consumption to four to six ounces per day for children under the age of 6, no more than 8 to 12 ounces for older kids as well.
>> tom costello, thank you. we'll talk to dr. oz and a representative from the juice industry for a moment. irvachi rangin with " consumer reports " good morning to you.
>> good morning.
>> 10% of the juices you tested exceeded the amount or the same amount of what was allowable for drinking water . how serious a threat is this? what is the threat of, to children from arsenic?
>> what we're talking about is not acute health effects . we're talking about chronic health effects , we're talking about cancer ris sock the farisk, so the fact it underscores a standard to be set in juices.
>> we heard about the report and isn't it a fair point, you can't compare apples and oranges . people don't drink as much juice as they do water. what would your response be?
>> there's nuance to that equation. one the drinking water standards is based on a 70 kilogram person drinking two liters of water a day, not a child who weighs far less than 70 kilograms. secondly the level of concern they're talking about is not based on cancer risk so we think cancer risk needs to be taken into account, that's why our risk is actually much, much lower than 23 parts per billion .
>> only one of the samples of the 88 you tested actually exceeded what the level of concern is for the fda . is the fda 's standard not sufficient?
>> the fact that none of our -- not many of our samples exceeded the 23 parts per billion is not what's of concern to us. that limit is way too high. we think it needs to be much lower but our data is part of a greater pool of data including fda 's own data that shows wide vary ability including a spike of 86 parts per billion .
>> urvashi rangan of the " consumer reports " thank you. we turn to dr. oz and gail, thank you for being with us.
>> good morning.
>> dr. oz you made a splash with similar research earlier. your research did not make the distinction between inorganic arsenic which is said to be a carcinogen and organic, naturally occurring arsenic. the " consumer reports " study makes that distinction and found this troubling amount in some juices. do you feel vindicated in terms of your research?
>> for me, i was not surprised by these findings, in part because we're not the first ones to have reported this. other groups before us have come along, said the exact same things that " consumer reports " well confirmed, we have elements of inorganic and organic arsenic in our apple juice and other foods as well. it's not fair to say that organ ic arsenic is safe. there are some we don't know about and some that are dangerous. the fda responded as well to talk about this. this is not about us. it's about the ability to have a conversation about things that are really dangerous for us.
>> i was going to ask but that. in some sense it seems like the fda has changed its tune a little bit. there is at the moment no standard for juices the way there is a standard for arsenic in drinking water about you now it's sort of signaling they may change that.
>> listen, 25 years ago we had a problem with lead in america, right, and we have over the last generation been able to dramatically reduce by 90% the amount of lead our kids are exposed to and found in their blood. as a doctor it makes me more confident we can do the same thing for arsenic but we have to do this. we cannot sit back and say the environment changed around us, our kids are at risk. we have to have the painful conversation, even though people aren't happy about it.
>> let me let gail come in on this, you represent the juice industry. 10% of juice studies have more arsenic than allowable in drinking water . do you dispute the science?
>> no, but the good news is i found the " consumer reports " data to be reassuring because they showed that the juice samples that they tested met the federal, the food and drug administration 's limit on, mick in juice. the fda does have a concern for arsenic in juice, the toxicologists and the food safety experts at fda set that limit in a precautionary public health -based way and the juice industry is committed to meeting fda 's limits.
>> what do you make of the cdc numbers? " consumer reports " looked at those and found people who have on the juices 20% higher levels of arsenic if they had apple or grape juices. how do you explain that?
>> i thought the " consumer reports " article was a little short on data and context. it turns out anything less than 100 micrograms in urine is normal, so think about it. if one group has ten my grow grams and the other 12, that's a 20% increase but still well below 100.
>> we have to go but why not voluntarily, why doesn't the juice industry voluntarily meet the higher standards? it's no skin off the industry's back to try to make juice safer, is it?
>> well, the juices are safe, and the industry is committed to meeting whatever science-based standards the fda sets. if fda scientists decide that the scien justifies changing the standard, then the industry will meet it.
>> dr. oz, you still give your kids juice?
>> i give them juice but i do dilute the juice, mix up the juices i give them, more orange juice and i think the recommendation should be taken to heart by parents. it is imperative for us to make the world safer for our kids. this is just a tip of the iceberg . this speaks to the broader themes of how our environment has changed and how we have to keep up with it and that's why i think the fd a, is adjusting its position, coming one new data coming out.
>> thank you so much. we'll be back right after this.