Poisoned Juice?

Dear Mamas,

I’ve been hearing lots of alarming information about arsenic in children’s fruit juice coming from the media and it’s really got me concerned. We have 2 boys – 18 months and 3 ½ — and both of them LOVE juices of all kinds. Their favorite is grape (one of the biggest offenders, I hear), but they happily slurp down any flavor I’ll give them.

Since the news reports and the segment on Dr. Oz I’ve tried to cut back but they seriously beg for their sippy cups constantly. How worried should I be? Is this just another scare tactic like mercury in vaccines? Please give me the straight scoop.



Dear Kristin,

We’ve gotten so many questions on this subject that it’s clear it’s on the minds of moms everywhere. We all assume that the sweet liquid we pour into those cups is wholesome, if not downright healthy, so this news came as quite a shock. First, let’s run down some facts about what the science shows, then we have a few suggestions for reducing your family’s risk.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that can contaminate groundwater used for drinking. Even in low doses it’s a carcinogen known to cause bladder, lung, and skin cancers and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, immunodeficiency, and type 2 diabetes.

A study conducted by Consumer Reports found that roughly 10 percent of juice samples from five brands had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb). One in four samples also had lead levels higher than the FDA’s bottled-water limit of 5 ppb. No federal limit exists for arsenic or lead levels in juice. Apple and grape juice (the two with the highest levels) constitute a significant source of dietary exposure to arsenic, according to analysis of federal health data from 2003 through 2008.

Children drink a lot of juice, and thirty-five percent of children 5 and younger drink juice in quantities that exceed pediatricians’ recommendations. Mounting evidence suggests that chronic exposure to arsenic and lead, even at levels below water standards, can result in serious health problems. Arsenic has been detected at disturbing levels in other foods, too, which suggests that more must be done to reduce overall dietary exposure.

Now that we’ve scared you to death, let’s outline some strategies to minimize the risk associated with fruit juice. First, head to the consumer reports website, consumerreports.org, to find the brands found to have the lowest levels of arsenic and lead and switch. This step will give you peace of mind and healthier kiddos, but it’s just a start.

Next, set out to reduce the amount of juice your boys are drinking. Arsenic and lead levels aside, fruit juice is basically water and sugar (even fructose, the natural sugar found in fruit, is just sugar) with a few vitamins added. It adds empty calories to kids’ diets without the healthy fiber that’s present in the whole fruit. Here’s our favorite strategy:

Explain to your boys that juice is a treat, and like all treats it has its time and place. Aim to reduce the number of servings modestly – maybe by just one sippy cup per day. At the same time, begin to gradually dilute the juice in their cups with water, starting with about 1 ounce of water to every 6 ounces of juice, slowly increasing the water to juice ratio every 2-3 days. Stop when a serving has no more than 1 ounce of juice to every 6 ounces of water (barely flavored). At this point you will have dramatically decreased the amount of juice they’re taking in. Don’t worry, if you’re sneaky and go slow your little guys won’t ever know the difference.

For more details about arsenic contamination and the list of arsenic levels found in specific brands, check out this article on the Consumer Reports website.

Good Luck!

~ The Mamas


Email This Post Email This Post

Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?

Warning: Illegal string offset 'echo' in /home/mamasonc/public_html/mama/wp-content/themes/hybrid/library/extensions/custom-field-series.php on line 157

Leave a Reply




With One or Both of Us

Go to AskDrMama.com & AskMamaEllen.com for the scoop!

Phone • Internet • Your Home or Group

Listen up

Trade Ya!

Raising kids can quickly sap your energy and empty your checking account. Here’s a pearl that could change things in a flash.

Watch This!

Learning about mental illness and how to talk about it is key to good parenting and healthy living. Take a look. It's oh, so common!

What You Said

  • VEHICLE DIAGNOSTIC TOOLS: If you are going for most excellent contents like me, just visit this web page every day...
  • Swipe Vault Review: Link exchange iѕ nothing eⅼsᥱ howеveг it is only placcing the other person’s website link...
  • web page: What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious familiarity regarding unexpected feelings.
  • 33Harrison: I must say it was hard to find your page in google. You write great articles but you should rank your...
  • Lisa jacobs: My daughter was in a car accident and now has a concussion. She is plan to go to Mexico City which is a...
  • sexy dresses: I go to see each day a few sites and sites to read content, except this weblog offers quality based...
  • tap sports baseball 2016 hack: Thanks for finally talking about >Pack it! Lunch Ideas Theyre Sure to Go For...
  • RF: Well my baby had her first two bottom theeth at 10 months old and i tought so far so good and then now at 11...
  • ΠΡΟΓΝΩΣΤΙΚΑ ΟΠΑΠ: It’s remarkable designed for me to have a web page, which is beneficial for my experience....
  • sportsbooktop: Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your site. You have some really good posts...

Just so you know

The Mama ButtonThe information provided by MamasOnCall is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, but is for information purposes only. You assume full responsibility for the health and well-being of your family. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychiatric condition.