A recent Consumer Reports investigation revealed that many brands of apple juice currently on the market in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut contain dangerously high levels of arsenic and lead. Exposure to arsenic and lead can cause brain damage, other developmental defects as well as certain types of cancers. . Apple juice is often the first drink that babies and toddlers drink after milk, and it is worrying that many apple juices contain high levels of arsenic and lead. It is unacceptable for these toxins to exist in such high levels in apple juice, as children and other consumers are unknowingly poisoned. It is the FDA’s responsibility to protect consumers from toxins in food, but current regulations and inspections have not been strong enough to prevent dangerous toxins from slipping past the FDA and ending up on store shelves.
Thankfully, Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey has taken action by introducing the Arsenic Prevention and Protection from Lead Exposure in Juice Act of 2012 (APPLE Juice Act), which requires that the FDA establish and enforce standards for arsenic and lead in fruit juices in 2 years. Congressman Pallone has also sent a letter to the FDA urging them to take action to ensure that high levels of arsenic and lead are not present in baby formula, which is also at risk. The APPLE Juice Act will give a child who drinks juice the same protections from arsenic and lead that are afforded to anyone who drinks bottled water.
The presence of dangerous levels of toxins in apple juice and in baby formula is a perfect example of why strong public health and consumer safety laws are necessary to protect our littlest consumers, babies and toddlers. U.S. PIRG is pleased to see that Congressman Pallone has taken action to protect consumers by introducing the APPLE Juice Act and is pushing for stronger food safety rules.
However we need to be alert as bills like this will be virtually impossible to pass if the (Reins Act S.299), the (RAA Act S.1606) and the (RFIA Act S.1939) are passed. These bills would allow the apple juice industry to block the Apple Juice Act indefinitely through the court system and an important bill that keeps babies and toddlers safe would not pass.