Is Apple Juice Poison? (Plus Homemade Juice Recipe)

by Head Health Nutter on September 23, 2011

I’m a fan of Dr. Mehmet Oz, the TV medical expert because he is genuinely concerned about the well-being and health of the public and his show does a great job of educating and building awareness on a range of healthcare topics.

Recently, you may have heard the controversy surrounding his investigation about apple juice, i.e., discovering high levels of arsenic (a toxic metalloid) in five well-known apple juice brands.

He and his team tested 36 samples (they tested the same brands multiple times just to be thorough), and 10 exceeded the arsenic limits for drinking water set by the EPA (10 parts per billion), and some even measured above “levels of concern.”

Those levels are based on people consuming just 4 ounces a day. I’m sure as a parent or for that matter anyone who enjoys a glass of apple juice found this news most alarming especially because who drinks just four ounces in one serving – definitely not the millions of kids out there, and more importantly why is arsenic in our apple juice?

Dr. Oz admits he is concerned not only about arsenic levels in juice but also the possible ill effects from drinking it for many years and he further states that “we do not know of any cases of poisonings, we do know that arsenic is a substance that shouldn’t be in food and could be associated with various public health problems such as cancer.” He recommends that there should be standards for allowable levels of arsenic for juice just like we have for water.

Truth be told, I was surprised to learn that arsenic is in apple juice. What I didn’t know is that American apple juice is made from apple concentrate, which is imported mostly from China and a few other foreign countries. Even though the U.S. has banned the use of arsenic in pesticides, it has no control over what comes in from these countries. Even if we weren’t importing apples or apple concentrate, arsenic can sneak into apples from contaminated soil and water here at home.

The FDA, juice manufacturers, and some medical experts disagreed with Oz’s investigation and lambasted him for sounding a false alarm about the dangers of apple juice. His critics point out that arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil in two forms — organic and inorganic.

According to the FDA, organic arsenic passes through the body quickly and is essentially harmless. Inorganic arsenic — the type found in pesticides — can be toxic and may pose a cancer risk if consumed at high levels or over a long period. “The Dr. Oz Show” did not break down the type when it tested several dozen juice samples for total arsenic. As a result, the FDA said the results are misleading.

So what’s my takeaway? We must minimize our exposure to toxins and contaminants, and we need to know exactly what is in our food supply – start to finish. We need more people like Dr. Oz to question what’s in our food, to push the buttons of the FDA, food procurers, manufacturers and distributors and what we can do to change our food supply system for the better.

As for apple juice, my son has a glass of OJ once a week and rarely drinks apple juice or any fruit juice. He drinks water and milk. Besides moderation is key – I think an occasional glass of juice (as long as it is not toxic!) is ok, but my family and I prefer eating fruits instead of drinking them. And if you’re trying to watch your weight, then definitely cut back on store-bought juice which is high in calories, loaded with preservatives and added sugars, and instead enjoy freshly squeezed juice in the comfort of your home.

Here’s my grandmother’s juice recipe. When I was little, she would use this giant mortar and pestle to squeeze the juice from the fruits, but luckily you can use a blender or juicer to whip up this juice in a jiffy!

Bindu’s Grandma’s Homemade Juice Recipe

Makes 2 small glasses:

  • 2 small oranges, peeled and separated
  • ½ cup of pomegranate
  • ½ cup of grapes of your choice (select sweet one)
  • Crushed ice (optional)

Add fruits into blender and blend until smooth (and a little water if necessary). Place ice in glasses and pour juice over it and serve.

About the Author

Author of Spice Up Your Life, Bindu Grandhi is passionate about healthy and flavourful cooking, especially when it’s flexitarian. She shares her health knowledge with the world by providing practical, healthy and tasty recipes as The Flex Cook.

What are your thoughts on the Dr. Oz and apple juice controversy?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dee September 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm

I watched that episode of Dr. Oz too, and was quite shocked at what we learned ~ but not really surprised.
I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment and recommendations Stephanie, as I no longer have ANY faith in the FDA or Health Canada for that matter. If there was actually NO danger to the public, why would the FDA decline to appear on Dr Oz’s show? Our own Health Protection Branch does not protect people, but rather BigPharma, Big Business & medical doctors forced to tow the line.
I actively boycott anything imported from China (mainly for their human rights violations) but especially after my favourite cat was poisoned by the melamine in the petfood I thought was high quality ~ but ultimately killed thousands of our beloved pets. This should never have happened, but other violations with baby formula and children’s toys have followed even since ~ including BPH’BPA seeping into our food from the cans in which it is contained. Where is our Gov’t protection on that matter?
I believe it is incumbant upon each of us, as health conscious consumers and parents, to be as as vigilant as possible about what we expose ourselves & our loved ones to. We have to be our own best advocates for higher standards and healthy choices if we hope to avoid more of the same.
i will not be drinking commercial apple juice anymore ~ unless & until more strident safety measures are guaranteed. You make a great case for juicing and enjoying fruit directly from someone we can trust… Mother Nature!

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Head Health Nutter September 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Wow, Dee, I’m in complete agreement with you, I couldn’t have said it better myself! I’m SO sorry to hear about your cat – that’s a tragic story and unnecessary, too, if our government really cared about our health and well-being.

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ooctavianus September 26, 2011 at 4:25 am

I don’t think cause natural apple juice, made from real 100 % apples contain that much arsenic !

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Maggie September 27, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I heard about this apple juice issue – now I’m concerned for my children (and the fact that I used to drink apple juice ALL the time when I was growing up). I like the recipe for the juice. I make my daughter’s baby food right now, so it is always nice to come across other recipes to try out. PS – found your blog on a healthy living search – good job!

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Head Health Nutter September 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Hey Maggie, thanks for popping on by Live Lighter (and thanks for the kudos!).

The bright side about Bindu’s post and Dr. Oz’s investigation is the awareness – once we stop drinking commercial juice, our bodies eventually process the chemicals out of our systems.

Hope you enjoy the juice recipe and please come on back to Live Lighter when the mood strikes you! :)

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