A new study by Consumer Reports states that some fruit juices pose potentially harmful levels of heavy metals. In its analysis of 45 fruit juices sold nationwide, the nonprofit advocacy organization found that nearly half contained elevated levels of inorganic arsenic, lead, or cadmium.
According to Hannah Gardener, ScD, nutritional epidemiologist and founder of A Green Slate Consulting, Boston, Mass., foods and beverages can become tainted with heavy metals if they’re grown in contaminated soil and water. Due to past use of heavy metal-containing pesticides, many orchards and fields have become contaminated.
But many heavy metals naturally occur in the environment as well, says Alex Berezow, PhD, vice president of scientific affairs, American Council on Science and Health, New York, New York.
Children, who are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of heavy metals, consume a lot of fruit juice. More than 80 percent of parents of children three and under give their kids juice at least sometimes, according to Consumer Reports’ survey.
Gardener says consuming foods with elevated levels of lead, cadmium, and inorganic arsenic can have significant health effects, particularly for babies and children who are sensitive to their effects. “As a potent neurotoxin, lead is toxic to the brain, and especially developing brains,” she says. “Its effects are permanent and irreversible, and there is no safe level of lead consumption. It’s also considered a potent reproductive toxin. Cadmium is also a neurotoxin and reproductive toxin and has damaging effects on the liver. Inorganic arsenic is particularly concerning as it’s known to cause cancer.”
The Consumer Reports’ article encourages the FDA to limit levels of heavy metals in foods. “If the FDA established stricter health-protective limits for heavy metals in foods and beverages, it could mean that manufacturers would have to test their products more thoroughly and identify better growing practices, conditions, locations, orchards, and fields in an effort to limit heavy metal contamination,” Gardener says. “These efforts have grown in some areas, particularly in relation to rice and rice-based foods, for example, where the concern about inorganic arsenic contamination has increased over the past eight years or so.”| | | Next → | Single Page
About Karen Appold
Karen Appold is an award-winning journalist based in Lehigh Valley, Pa. She has a BA in English (writing) from Penn State University and has more than 20 years of editorial experience. Karen has been a full-time freelance medical writer and editor since 2003. She works for various medical organizations, businesses, and media. Karen has also worked in a variety capacities, including newspaper reporter, editor of a daily newspaper, and editor of a monthly magazine. Reach her at email@example.com.