If you or your kids drink fruit juice, listen up.
You may recall that back in 2011, Consumer Reports tested a variety of fruit juices in search of elevated levels of arsenic, and the results showed elevated levels in both apple and grape juices. Now, CR has repeated the tests in an effort to see if levels have improved, as well as to examine other types of juice and search for additional heavy metals.
CR’s tests focused on metals that have historically been found in food and drink and that pose some of the greatest risks, such as cadmium, lead, mercury and inorganic arsenic.
The results? Of 45 popular fruit juices (like apple, grape, pear and fruit blends) by 24 different brands — including juices marketed for children — 21 of them have elevated levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead.
While children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of heavy metals — as metals exposure can cause behavioral problems and a lowered IQ, among other issues — they can also harm adults and lead to problems like type 2 diabetes and cancer.
The biggest problem is not simply that heavy metals are found in fruit juices, but rather that prolonged exposure to the metals from regular consumption can lead to serious health problems. And many children consume these juices on a daily basis.
“In some cases, drinking just four ounces a day — or half a cup — is enough to raise concern,” James Dickerson, Ph.D., CR’s chief scientific officer says in the new report.
Among the findings, CR notes that five of the products with elevated levels are juice boxes or pouches, which pose a risk to a child who drinks more than one box or pouch per day. They also found that grape juice and juice blends had the highest average heavy metal levels, but none of the juices contained concerning levels of mercury. In comparing organic juices to conventional ones, organic juices did not have lower levels of heavy metals.
It should also be noted that the juices in question are not violating government rules. Rather, these findings suggest a need to change the rules so that manufacturers are held to higher standards when it comes to the amount of heavy metal allowed in fruit juices.
The findings are extensive and include a list of the juice brands that tested highest for heavy metals, so if you’d like to dive deeper into the issue, you can read the full report at Consumer Reports. Does this report make you rethink drinking fruit juice?