Apple Juice Showdown: Dr. Oz Arsenic Claim Questioned by Dr. Besser


The FDA also recommends 10 parts per billion as a safe level of arsenic for bottled water, but sets 23 parts per billion as the maximum for other foods. The standards are different mainly because of differences in testing methods for water and food products like fruit juices, as well as differences in the kinds of arsenic found in each.

The "Dr. Oz Show" warned consumers to be particularly wary of juice concentrates that are imported to the U.S. from countries including China, where environmental protections against arsenic-containing pesticides and chemicals are lax or nonexistent.

Zink said the FDA tests apple juice products at the U.S. borders, and these products must meet the legal requirements regarding arsenic levels before they can be sold to consumers.

The EPA has banned pesticides containing inorganic arsenic in the U.S. since the 1970's.

The "Dr. Oz Show's" apple juice alert may be fruitless in the eyes of some scientists. But for others, it raises important questions about how much people should know about the food they eat.

Dr. Art Caplan, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, said consumers have the right to know what is in their food. But he said not all information about food is relevant to a person's health.

"There's all kinds of stuff that's out there," Caplan said. "The job of the media, including Dr. Oz, is not just to tell people what's in their food, but to tell them what they should or should not be concerned about."

Dr. Henry Miller, the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology, noted that just because a substance like arsenic is present in foods doesn't mean that it is toxic.

"Unless there is evidence that a substance is present at sufficient exposures and levels to cause harm, warnings about its presence in food is irresponsible alarmism," Miller said.

And even Oz said that he as a parent "would not take apple juice out of my kids' containers now" during his GMA appearance.

"When we asked the FDA for information on how to determine safe levels of arsenic in apple juice, they made us file a freedom of information request," Oz said. "We just want to have the conversation, and we've been trying to make this conversation happen."

ABC News' Dan Childs and Ben Forer contributed to this report.

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