Dr. Oz and FDA go head to head in arsenic debate

Television show host Dr. Mehmet Oz told viewers on Wednesday's show  "Arsenic Apple Juice: What's in America's Apple Juice?" that testing by a New Jersey lab found troubling levels of arsenic in apple juice -- the result of using apple concentrates from China and Argentina -- inflaming moms and dads, and other physicians. http://360mediawatch.com/download.php?vid=20348


Washington, D.C.-based Juice Products Association (JPA), the trade organization representing the juice products industry, declined to be on the show but was quick to respond, saying reports about arsenic in apple juice on the Dr. Oz Show are misleading.  According to the JPA, the Dr. Oz Show may needlessly cause concern among consumers because the program fails to explain that arsenic is in the soil, water and air and therefore it is found in very low, harmless levels in many naturally sourced foods and beverages. The FDA has established what it calls a "level of concern" at 23 parts per billion (ppb) for the presence of inorganic arsenic in apple juice. Two forms of arsenic -- organic and inorganic -- are found in trace levels in many foods and beverages that are derived from nature.  The FDA monitors levels of inorganic arsenic in apple juice because organic arsenic presents no toxicity.  The Juice Products Association states that according to the lab reports shared with JPA by The Dr. Oz Show, the laboratory did not use the FDA's approved test method for fruit juices.


and www.fruitjuicefacts.org/apple-juice-facts.html.


FDA disputes suggestions that trace amounts of arsenic in many apple juice products pose a health concern, adding, arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food, and soil in organic and inorganic forms. FDA also said the lab methods for total arsenic were not appropriate and that its own tests show much lower arsenic levels. The agency warned "The Dr. Oz. Show" producers in advance that their testing was misleading.




 - Letters from the FDA to the Dr. Oz Show Regarding Apple Juice and Arsenic

"Organic arsenic is essentially harmless," the agency said in a statement, and it passes through the body quickly. Inorganic arsenic is the type found in pesticides, and consuming it at high levels or over a long period can cause concern. "There is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices. And FDA has been testing them for years."


Another independent lab agreed with the FDA's contention that the form of arsenic matters. "A lot of things can have organically bound arsenic like kelp, but most of those flow right through you" and don't accumulate, said William Obermeyer, a former FDA chemist who cofounded ConsumerLab.com.


The controversy was taken up by Dr. Richard Besser, a pediatrician and former acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who also scolded Oz Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America" show and "ABC Nightly News" for scaring consumers with what Besser called an an "extremely irresponsible" report, like "yelling `Fire!' in a movie theater."


"We don't think the show is irresponsible," wrote Tim Sullivan, a spokesman for Oz's show. "We think the public has a right to know what's in their foods. The position of the show is that the total arsenic needs to be lower," he said. "We did the tests. We stand by the results and we think the public has a right to know what's in their foods."


The public also has a right to know that media reports are correct, especially when it concerns food.