According to a new exposé by Consumer Reports, many fruit juices still contain “concerning” amounts of heavy metals. Their investigators are concerned that it could pose health risks to children and adults if consumed daily over a period of years, reported TODAY.
When the organization tested juices from two dozen brands in four flavors (apple, grape, pear and fruit blends) almost half contained what it considered “elevated levels” of arsenic, cadmium, and lead. Some of those products were juice boxes or pouches, which are marketed directly to children.
Overall, heavy metal levels in fruit juices have gone down since the magazine conducted similar tests in 2011. However, they are still not happy with the levels.
“People should still be concerned that these heavy metals are still being found in juice products… and take action so they can ensure that they and their families are healthy and safe,” Dickerson told TODAY.
“Heavy metals are things that can cause a variety of ailments in children and adults — everything from neurological issues to cancer — so we certainly want to ensure that the industry continues to do a better job to reduce the presence of these in the products that we buy.”
Heavy metals occur naturally in the air, water, and soil. That makes it impossible to avoid them completely, but juice manufacturers can reduce the amount by being selective about where they source their fruit and how they process the juice.
The Juice Products Association, an industry trade group, released a statement contradicting Consumer Reports. They said that the alarms are needless.
"There is no scientific evidence indicating that the presence of trace levels of heavy metals in juice has caused any negative health outcomes among individuals at any life stage," the association said in a statement to TODAY.
"Juice producers make safety a priority 365-days-a-year and believe the concerns cited by Consumer Reports' intermittent testing of selected products are unfounded. Consumers can be assured that juice is safe."
Consumer reports said they tested 45 juices from the following brands: 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods), Apple & Eve, Big Win (Rite Aid), Capri Sun, Clover Valley (Dollar General), Great Value (Walmart), Gerber, Good2Grow, Gold Emblem (CVS), Goya, Honest Kids, Juicy Juice, Looza, Market Pantry (Target), Minute Maid, Mott's, Nature's Own, Ocean Spray, Old Orchard, R.W. Knudsen, Simply Balanced (Target), Trader Joe's, Tree Top and Welch's.
21 of the 45 juices had “concerning levels” of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, and/or lead.
Seven of those 21 juices could harm children who drink 4 ounces (half a cup) or more a day; nine of them could pose risks to kids at 8 ounces (1 cup) or more a day.
Five of the products with elevated levels were juice boxes or pouches. They could pose a risk to a child who drinks more than one a day. 10 of the juices could pose a risk to adults: five at 4 ounces or more a day, and five at 8 ounces or more a day.
Grape juice and juice blends had the highest average heavy metal levels, possibly because grapes might take up heavy metals more than other fruits, Dickerson said. Juice blends often have grape juice as a primary component.
Organic juices didn’t have lower levels of heavy metals.
Dickerson emphasized the juices in question were not violating government rules, and Consumer Reports was not speaking as a standard-setting organization. However, they had determined based on their tests that some of the juices could pose a health risk for a person with chronic exposure — or “continued, persistent consumption of these juices over an extremely long period of time,” Dickerson said.
That means children drinking the juice every day throughout their development, or adults drinking it every day throughout their lives. This is just another reason to limit how much juice you or your kids drink. Nutritionists also question its value because it lacks fiber and can contain as much sugar as soda.
“For children and adults, no juice needs to be included as part of a healthy-well balanced diet,” wrote Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC News Diet and Nutrition Editor.