(Gray News) – A Consumer Reports (CR) test of 45 popular fruit juices across the country found elevated and potentially harmful levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead in almost half of them.
Also known as heavy metals, these toxins can put children at risk for things like lowered IQ, behavioral problems, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
"In some cases, drinking just 4 ounces a day--or half a cup--is enough to raise concern," CR's Chief Scientific Officer James Dickerson said.
Juices and juice drinks are a popular choice for parents.
More than 80 percent of parents of children age 3 and younger give their kids fruit juice at least sometimes, according to a recent national Consumer Reports survey of 3,002 parents. In 74 percent of those cases, kids drink juice once a day or more.
That's the reason for the concern over these heavy metals in juice.
"Exposure to these metals early on can affect their whole life trajectory," said Jennifer Lowry, the director of clinical pharmacology, toxicology, and therapeutic innovations at Children's Mercy Kansas City. "There is so much development happening in their first years of life."
After testing samples of 45 different juices, CR highlighted these findings:
- Every product had measurable levels of at least one of these heavy metals: cadmium, inorganic arsenic, lead or mercury.
- Of the juices, 21 of the 45 had concerning levels of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, and/or lead. None of them contained concerning levels of mercury.
- Seven of those 21 juices could harm children who drink 4 ounces or more a day. Nine of them pose risks to kids at 8 ounces or more a day.
- Grape juice and juice blends had the highest average heavy metal levels.
And one more thing.
Parents who give their kids organic juices don't get a pass. They don't have lower levels of heavy metals than conventional ones.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended limiting the amount of juice children drink, saying it contains lots of sugar, contributing to tooth decay, and calories, leading to obesity. They suggest fresh fruit instead.
Following the AAP's guidelines would also limit exposure to heavy metals.
The organization says parents should avoid giving children younger than 1 year old any fruit juice. After that, the daily maximum amounts are: 1- to 3-year-olds, 4 ounces; 4- to 6-year-olds, 6 ounces; 7 years and older, 8 ounces.
Ultimately, there is good news in the report.
Since a similar CR test in 2011, heavy metal levels in fruits juices have gone down overall and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it will continue to monitor the progress.
We know there is more work to be done to reduce these elements in our food supply and we place a high priority on reducing exposure among infants and children, as the very young are more susceptible to their potential adverse health effects. We welcome the data provided by Consumer Reports and will review it in its entirety as part of our larger, comprehensive effort to reduce toxic element exposure. The findings of Consumer Reports underscore the progress that has been made in reducing the amounts of these elements in fruit juices over the past several years. We are encouraged by this progress and believe that FDA oversight and industry responsiveness will continue to drive innovation leading to reductions in exposure."
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