FDA has issued draft action levels for lead in single-strength (ready to drink) apple juice and other single-strength juices and juice blends. This action is intended to reduce the potential for negative health effects from dietary exposure to lead, and supports the Closer to Zero action plan that sets forth FDA’s aim to reduce exposure to toxic elements in foods.
In particular, Action Levels for Lead in Juice: Draft Guidance for Industry, provides draft action levels of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for lead in single-strength apple juice and of 20 ppb for lead in all other single-strength juice types, including juice blends that contain apple juice.
As part of its commitment in the Closer to Zero action plan to consider the biological effects from exposure to harmful elements in food, the draft action levels for lead in juice were guided by FDA’s interim reference level (IRL) for lead, a measure of the contribution of lead in food to blood lead levels. The agency estimates that establishing a 10 ppb action level could result in as much as a 46% reduction in exposure to lead from apple juice in children. For all other fruit and vegetable juices, establishment of an action level of 20 ppb is estimated to result in a reduction of 19% in exposure to lead from all other juices in children. FDA has issued a lower draft action level for apple juice because it is the most commonly consumed juice that young children drink.
“As we outlined in the Closer to Zero action plan, the agency is increasing targeted compliance activities as part of our efforts to monitor levels of these elements in foods through the FDA’s Total Diet Study, Toxic Elements in Food and Foodware program, and sampling assignments,” said Susan Mayne, PhD, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in a statement. “In addition, our work in this important area of food safety will progress with advancements in science. For example, action levels may be progressively lowered over time, as appropriate, to make continual improvements in reducing the levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury in foods eaten by babies and young children.”
FDA is accepting comments on the draft guidance, and manufacturers may choose to implement the recommendations in the draft guidance before the guidance becomes final. FDA will work with manufacturers of these products to encourage the adoption of best practices to lower levels of lead in juice.
Because lead is in the environment as a naturally occurring element and from consumer and industrial products and processes, it is not possible to remove it entirely from the food supply; however, the action levels recommended in the draft guidance document will help limit consumer exposure.