Arsenic In Our Nation's Apple Juice?

Dr. Oz says yes, the FDA says no. Whom do you believe?

I have to admit this, I am a worrier. Having children gave me two more beings to worry about too.

So, that’s why when Dr. Oz says, on his show, that apple juice has arsenic in it, my ears perk up. I am an apple juice fan, when it comes to toddlers. It’s such a pale, inoffensive color that blends so nicely with most clothing ensembles, unlike purple grape juice or red fruit punches.

Apple juice, potentially dangerous?

“No! Say it isn’t so!” my brain cries.

Aside from a knee-jerk reaction, I did go to school for business, and, after several statistics classes, I’ve come to the decision that Mark Twain was completely right when he said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Since statistics are subject to human interpretation, media outlets often report them incorrectly or in misleading ways. This is what I tried to remind myself.

Delving into the numbers

My favorite myth dispeller is the Statistical Assessment Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank affiliated with George Mason University. Its stated purpose includes a mission to “correct scientific misinformation in the media and in public policy resulting from bad science, politics or a simple lack of information or knowledge.”

Travis Butterworth of STATS is also a contributor to Forbes who wrote a rebuttal calling Dr. Oz’s research flawed. Butterworth pointed out that the famous doctor is a heart surgeon, whereas the Food and Drug Administration says apple juice is safe and specifically employs professionals such as the FDA's Dr. Zink, "a microbiologist and biochemist specializing in food," who provides a thorough account of why the juice is not harmful.

Based on the FDA and STATS, apple juice still occupies a prime spot on my refrigerator shelf.

What's your take on this?

Who do you believe? Do you investigate, when it comes to products or foods and your kids?

Diane Campbell September 22, 2011 at 01:10 AM
I don't watch the show but heard a lot about this on the news. I wonder if Dr. Oz meant for this to get so blown out of proportion? I think the study that he was going off of was saying that you would have to consume VERY large amounts of apple juice over a VERY long period of time. With that being said, that 's like saying Goldfish crackers are poison in Gymboree...it's bound to cause concern/panic. I tend to look further when I hear something, especially from the media. They love to jump on things that have great sound bites. We will still have apple juice (in small amounts...not good for your teeth) :)....see, now look who's starting rumors! ;)
Michael Brancato September 22, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Sharon, Dr. Oz is a media personality. He may have studied and practiced medicine, and he may even know the difference between a cold and the ebola virus, but at the end of the day he is looking for one thing and one thing only: ratings. If saying that apple juice has dangerously high levels of arsenic in it will get people to tune in to his show, he will do it. He knows his market, and he knows exactly what to feed them to get this kind of discussion started. Just watch, soon he'll be talking about how hot dogs are the most dangerous thing you can give a child, and then he'll find a study showing that water has too much dihydrogen monoxide in it to give to children. And people will whip up into a panic and call for legislation and research and blah blah blah while Dr. Oz laughs all the way to the bank. So the best thing to do here: use common sense, and ignore attention junkies like Dr. Oz who have no real interest in your or my well being.
Jennifer Danziger September 22, 2011 at 04:07 PM
"Just watch, soon he'll be talking about how hot dogs are the most dangerous thing you can give a child" Actually, they may very well be, Michael! Read on: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2011/07/02/whats-in-your-wiener-hot-dog-ingredients-explained
Michael Brancato September 22, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Well, I would be surprised if anyone considered a hot dog to be health food, and what's actually in a hot dog is a discussion for a much different forum. My point was more in the hyperbole of "the most dangerous thing you can give a child," because that's the kind of headline grabbing language that Chicken Littles like Dr. Oz would use.
Sharon Maroldi September 23, 2011 at 03:55 AM
I understand Dr. Oz is a media personality. However, my overall point was that there are a lot of statement made by the media, with regards to health. Some of it is definitely worth considering, such as certain things about SIDS, like the "back to sleep campaign," as well as information about trans fats. I mostly just wondered how others determine what they will believe-as I said, my first resource is STATS.


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