Beware of What's Lurking in Your Child's Juice
Did you know that there are no federal standards limiting the amount of arsenic and lead levels in juice? I certainly assumed that juice, which is consumed by so many young children, would be regulated as is water. And there's more bad news.
Consumer Reports tested samples of apple and grape juice and found that 10 percent of the samples had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb) and 25 percent of the samples had lead levels higher than the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) bottled-water limit of 5 ppb. Most of the arsenic detected in Consumer Reports' tests was a type known as inorganic, a human carcinogen.
The FDA seems to be gearing up to regulate juice. On Nov. 21, the regulatory agency sent a letter to two consumer advocacy groups saying that it is seriously considering setting guidelines for what levels of inorganic arsenic should be allowed in apple juice. But in the meantime, what are parents to do?
Your pediatrician has probably already told you to limit the amount of juice your child drinks. My son's pediatrician told me water is the best drink for him. Water won't make you fat or promote tooth decay, and we know for sure, it's regulated. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued juice-consumption guidelines for children to help cut the risks of obesity and tooth decay; and Consumer Reports is advising parents to follow those same guidelines to reduce arsenic exposure. Those guidelines include:
- Avoid giving infants under six months any type of juice.
- Children up to six years old should consume no more than four to six ounces per day.
- Older children should drink no more than eight to 12 ounces a day.
According to a Consumer Reports poll, 35 percent of children age five and younger drink juices exceeding pediatricians' recommendations. If their parents find out what's in the juice, I'm sure they'll cut back.