Parents have become a little more aware of just how unhealthy some fruit drinks are, thanks to excessive sugar amounts, but now there's something else to be concerned about. According to a new report, heavy metals have been found in many popular fruit juices. The levels found can impact both kids and adults, so this is concerning for everybody.
Consumer Reports, a non-profit consumer research and advocacy group, tested 45 popular fruit juices sold across the United States, including apple, pear, grape, and fruit combos, according to an article by the organization's magazine. It ran a similar test in 2011, as reported by Today, and although findings have somewhat improved, there's still a lot of work to be done.
They ended up finding 21 juices had enough of at least one heavy metal to cause concern among experts, as USA Today reported, and that included drinks marketed towards children.
"Our test focused on cadmium, lead, mercury, and inorganic arsenic (the type most harmful to health) because they pose some of the greatest risks, and prior research suggests they are common in food and drink," according to the report from Consumer Reports.
Kids are particularly at risk to the effects of these heavy metals, per Consumer Reports. It doesn't take much to have an impact. Consumer Reports' chief scientific officer, James Dickerson, told Consumer Reports that drinking just 4 ounces of a juice that has these sorts of heavy metals each day is enough to cause concern.
Each juice that was tested had "measurable levels" of at least one of heavy metals for which they were looking, according to Consumer Reports. However, of all the juices tested, there were seven juices that could actually negatively affect kids who drank at least a half a cup each day, including juices like R.W. Knudsen Organic Just Concord Grape Juice, 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods) Organic 100% Juice, and Welch’s 100% Grape Juice, Concord Grape.
Trader Joe's, one of the brands of juice tested, told Consumer Reports, "We will investigate your findings, as [we are] always ready to take whatever action is necessary to ensure the safety and quality of our products."
Consumer Reports included a full list of products tested on its website. But in general, the group recommended that parents consider cutting down on how much juice their kids are drinking. Although it may be a popular go-to beverage for kids, it just might not be that good for them.
The American Pediatrics Association, for example, now says parents shouldn't give kids younger than one any type of fruit juice, as USA Today reported in a different article. Dr. Melvin B. Heyman, who helped co-author the AAP's statement, said, according to USA Today, "Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories. Small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids, but are absolutely unnecessary."
In its statement, the AAP went on to recommend fruit juice should be limited to half a cup each day for toddlers ages 1 to 3. For kids ages 4 to 6, there should be a restriction of a half a cup to three-quarters of a cup ounces each day. And finally, for kids 7 to 18, there should be a daily limit of 8 ounces, or about a cup.
Now, you may be wondering how heavy metals even get into fruit juice. According to CBS News, heavy metals and the like can end up in food because they're naturally present in air, water, and soil. However, certain manufacturing and packaging processes can also lead to the presence of heavy metals in foods and drinks.
This is where the Food and Drug Administration comes in. Although Consumer Reports' findings come about six years after the FDA set a new limit on the level of arsenic allowed in apple juice, that "new" limit hasn't actually been finalized yet. According to its report, Consumer Reports' director of food policy initiatives said, "We encourage the FDA to finalize the limit as soon as possible."
If you or your kids are big juice drinkers, make sure to look through Consumer Report's list to see how your juice tested. It's worth knowing what's in the food that you and your kids might be eating on a regular basis, particularly if they could be causing serious effects on your health.