Nearly half of 45 fruit juices tested had elevated levels of heavy metals, which can pose health risks for children and adults, Consumer Reports has found.
Juices: The Best and Worst for Your Health
Reviewed by Christine Mikstas on 5/29/2018
“In some cases, drinking just 4 ounces a day — or half a cup — is enough to raise concern,” James Dickerson, PhD, chief scientific officer for CR, says in the report.
If anything, the results simply reinforce existing concerns about fruit juices.
“I don’t think we need to say you can’t give your kids any juice,” says Steven Abrams, MD, a professor of pediatrics at Dell Medical School, University of Texas at Austin. But, he says, “juice is not a product that is intrinsically healthy for children.” He co-authored the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines on juice, which set limits by age.
Meanwhile, juice producers say the report needlessly alarms consumers.
How Was the Testing Done?
Consumer Reports experts tested 45 juices made by 24 brands, including well-known and lesser-known brands such as Gerber, Minute Maid, Mott’s, Great Value from Walmart, Clover Valley from Dollar General, and Big Win from Rite Aid. Those tested included organic products, too, as well as store brands from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s
They focused on levels of cadmium, lead, mercury, and inorganic arsenic, saying that these elements pose some of the greatest risks and that research has found they are common in food and drink. The juices tested were apple, fruit blends, grape, and pear.
The new testing was done as a follow-up to a study in 2011, when CR found elevated levels of inorganic arsenic and lead in apple and grape juices. The new evaluation was done to see if there’s been improvement, to test other juices, and to test for other heavy metals.
What Are the Major Findings?
Overall, CR says, heavy metal levels in fruit juices have declined since their last testing. But in the new report, every juice contained at least one of the four metals tested, and 47%, or 21, had concerning levels of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, and/or lead. None had concerning levels of mercury. Other major conclusions:
There is no scientific evidence indicating that the presence of trace levels of heavy metals in juice has caused any negative health outcomes among individuals at any life stage.Patricia Faison, technical director of the Juice Products Association
Seven of the 21 had enough heavy metals to potentially harm children who drink a half-cup or more a day, and nine of the 21 held risks for kids drinking a cup or more a day.
Ten of the juices posed a risk to adults, too: Five were potentially hazardous at a half-cup or more a day, and five at a cup or more a day.
The highest heavy metal levels were in grape juice and juice blends.
Organic juices did not have lower heavy metal levels than non-organic.
In the report, 24 products are listed as ”better alternatives.”
Still, all but one of the juices in the Consumer Reports tests had inorganic arsenic levels below the FDA’s proposed limit of 10 parts per billion, and 58% had levels below CR’s recommended cutoff of 3 ppb. Trader Joe’s Fresh Pressed Apple Juice was the only product above the 10 ppb threshold. CR says its tests found three samples averaged 15.4 ppb.