Fruit juice is often touted as a healthy beverage, especially for children. Too much of a good thing, though, could pose a health risk. Not only is juice high in sugar – although many companies offer low-sugar options – it is also a source of toxic metals, and too much could have a long-term impact on our health. Toxic metals are not usually on the list of ingredients, so it’s important for the consumer to know more about the products we use on a daily basis.
Some of these metals are naturally occurring, from the soil or water used to grow the fruits, and it is also possible to expose juice to metals during processing. Efforts have been made to reduce harmful chemicals in fruit juice, but a recent study indicates that these efforts have not gone far enough to minimize the risk of exposure to toxic metals. Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to mitigate exposure by reducing consumption of fruit juice.
A recent study by Consumer Reports
detected “concerning levels of heavy metals” in fruit juice. While they caution that consumers are not to “panic,” the study concludes that reducing the amount of juice we drink will help to offset over-exposure to harmful metals, like arsenic and lead. This is especially important for children, as the long term exposure to these substances could have an impact on their health as they grow.
We are all exposed to chemicals due to water, air, and the soil that our food naturally comes into contact with. There are even potentially toxic metals in our antiperspirant. It is difficult to avoid all chemicals but with a little bit of knowledge and awareness on the products that we use on a daily basis, we can reduce our exposure to dangerous chemicals that build up in our bodies.
Our exposure to these types of substances is often low, but over time can build up. Tunde Akinley, a Consumer Reports Food Safety chemist involved in this study, had the following to say about our exposure to harmful chemicals in food products like fruit juice: “In the course of a lifetime, the average person will come into contact with these metals many times, from many sources…We’re exposed to these metals so frequently during our lives that it’s vital to limit exposures early on.”
Juices are often marketed towards children, and parents believe that they are making a healthy choice for their kids. However, “In some cases, drinking just 4 ounces a day—or half a cup—is enough to raise concern,” says James Dickerson, Ph.D., Consumer Reports’s chief scientific officer. Dickerson goes on to say, “The risk comes from chronic exposure…Minimizing consumption of juices and other foods that have heavy metals can reduce the chance of negative outcomes in the future.”
Again, the findings of this study by Consumer Reports does not intend to cause a national panic, but it does provide information about a popular product – in this case, fruit juice – so that the consumer is aware of what they’re buying, and consuming.