Dr. Oz's Claims of Arsenic in Apple Juice Under Fire

Sep 16, 2011, 10:39 by R.E. Christian

Dr. Richard Besser Thursday condemned Dr. Mehmet Oz's statement on arsenic in apple juice, calling it "extremely irresponsible."

"Mehmet, I'm very upset about this. I think that this was extremely irresponsible," Besser, ABC News health and medical editor, said on ABC-TV's "Good Morning America." "It reminds me of yelling fire in a movie theater."

"I'm not fear-mongering," Oz countered. "We did our homework on this risk."

Laboratory tests released on Oz' syndicated show Wednesday indicated three dozen samples of five brands of apple juice from three U.S. cities found higher levels of arsenic than those recommended for drinking water by the Environmental Protection Agency, ABC News reported.

Five days before Oz's show aired, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it sent a letter to Oz that said airing the show would be "irresponsible" and "misleading" because the testing ignored the difference between organic and inorganic arsenic. Organic arsenic is generally thought not to be harmful to health, the FDA said.

Donald Zink, senior science adviser at FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said on the FDA Web site arsenic is present in the environment -- in water, food, air and soil -- as a naturally occurring substance or as a result of contamination from human activity

Henry Kim, a supervisory chemist at the FDA, said apple juice cannot be compared to EPA's arsenic standard for public drinking water at 10 parts per billion because the inorganic arsenic is the form found in drinking water,whereas the organic arsenic is the form mostly found in food, including juices.

The FDA has been tracking total arsenic contamination in apple and other juices for about six years, since foreign producers started gaining an increasing share of the juice market, Henry Kim, a supervisory chemist at the FDA said.

"FDA will continue to test juices and juice concentrate and evaluate data provided by industry, consumer groups and government agencies, as well as data published in scientific literature. If the agency finds too much inorganic arsenic in any juice, it will take steps to remove that product from the market," Zink said.

Source: UPI