Nearly half of the 45 fruit juices tested were high in heavy metals, which may pose a health risk to children and adults. Consumer reports found.
The report, released Wednesday, indicates that even small amounts of juice can carry risks.
"In some cases, drinking only 4 ounces a day – or half a cup – is enough to raise concerns," said James Dickerson, PhD, senior scientist at CR, says in the report.
At best, the results only reinforce existing concerns about fruit juices.
"I do not think we need to say that you can not give your kids any juice," says Steven Abrams, MD, professor of pediatrics at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. But, he says, "juice is not an inherently healthy product for kids". He has co-authored the juice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which set limits based on age.
At the same time, juice producers say the report will unnecessarily alarm consumers.
How were the tests performed?
Consumer reports Experts have tested 45 fruit juices from 24 brands, including well-known and lesser-known brands such as Gerber, Minute Maid, Mott's, Walmart's Great Value, Dollar General's Clover Valley and Rite Aid's Big Win. . The products tested also included organic products, as well as brands from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's stores.
They focused on levels of cadmium, lead, mercury and inorganic arsenic, claiming that these elements pose some of the greatest risks and that research has shown that they are common in food and drinks. The juices tested were apples, fruit mixes, grapes and pear.
The new test was carried out following a study carried out in 2011, when CR found high levels of inorganic arsenic and lead in apple and grape juice. The new assessment aimed to determine if there had been improvements, to test other juices and to look for other heavy metals.
What are the main conclusions?
Global, CR said, heavy metal levels in fruit juices have declined since their last tests. But in the new report, each juice contained at least one of the four metals tested and 47%, 21, had levels of cadmium, inorganic arsenic and / or lead. None had mercury levels. Other major conclusions:
Seven out of 21 had enough heavy metals to potentially harm children who drink half a cup or more a day, and nine of 21 are at risk for children who drink one cup or more a day.
Ten of the juices also presented a risk for adults: five were potentially dangerous at half a cup or more a day and five to a cup or more a day.
The highest levels of heavy metals were found in grape juice and juice blends.
Organic juices contained no less heavy metals than non-organic ones.
In the report, 24 products are listed as "best alternatives".
Yet all the juices except one of the Consumer reports In the tests, the levels of inorganic arsenic were below the FDA limit of 10 parts per billion and 58%, below CRThe recommended threshold of 3 ppb. Joe & # 39; s trader fresh pressed apple juice was the only product above the 10 ppb threshold. According to CR, his tests revealed that the average of three samples was 15.4 ppb.
There is no scientific evidence that trace amounts of heavy metals in juices have had adverse effects on human health, regardless of stage of development.
Patricia Faison, Technical Director of the Juice Products Association
What are the health risks of heavy metals?
Depending on the size and duration of the exposure, heavy metals may pose risks to children and adults. Risks include low IQ, behavioral problems such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Type 2 diabetesand cancer, among other health issues, CR said.
Experts worry about the accumulation of heavy metals not only in juices, but also in other sources. They are found not only in food and beverages, but in all the environment; plants absorb heavy metals from contaminated soils and waters, CR said.
What does this mean for children and adults?
The best advice about serving fruit juice to children is to limit it, says Abrams, also director of the Dell Pediatric Research Institute. Expanding their choices, he adds. "Do not use that apples or oranges."
Among the misconceptions among parents, he says, is that organic juices contain less heavy metals. Not true, he said. "Families should not assume that the choice of organic etiquette guarantees the absence of toxins."
He also advises against serving juices in boxes or juice bags. "Children will tend to sip on it, and they will have a lot of juice on their teeth [risking cavities]. It's practical, I understand that. But I think that they tend to drink more. "
What do juice manufacturers say?
In a statement, Patricia Faison, technical director of the Juice Products Association, an industry group, accused Consumer reports to raise unnecessary concerns.
"There is no scientific evidence to suggest that traces of heavy metals in the juice have had negative effects on the health of individuals at any stage of their lives," she said.
"The juice industry is committed to providing safe, high quality nutritional juices that meet or exceed the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) food safety regulations."
Juice growers also do their own testing, says Faison.
Gerber also responded in part: "At Gerber, we always make an extra effort to provide safe, high quality nutrition for our children, which means regular testing of our ingredients, water and our finished juices, work closely with our farmers to reduce and limit contaminants and use some of the most accurate testing equipment and testing methods available. "
Consumer reports: "Arsenic and lead are in your fruit juice: what you need to know."
Patricia Faison, Technical Director, Juice Products Association.
Cathy Dunn, spokesperson, Nestle.
Steven Abrams, MD, professor of pediatrics, Dell Medical School, University of Texas at Austin; Director, Dell Pediatric Research Institute.
American Academy of Pediatrics: "Juices in Infants, Children and Adolescents: Current Recommendations".