Report: Popular Fruit Juices May Contain Heavy Metals

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS News) – A new report says some popular fruit juices may contain heavy metals. 

Those metals are substances that may their way into food because they occur naturally in the air water and soil, but they can also wind up in food during manufacturing and packaging. 

James Dickerson, the Chief Scientific Officer for Consumer Reports, says his team tested 45 different juices for 4 heavy metal substances: inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.

They found that every single product contained a measurable amount of at least one heavy metal, except for mercury.

Twenty-one of the samples contained one or a combination of heavy metals that reached a level consumer reports researchers deemed concerning for daily consumption.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says long-term exposure to heavy metals may put people at risk for kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, damaged ability to learn and certain types of cancer. 

Consumer Reports is recommending parents lower the amount of juice they give their kids.

“So they should be concerned but don’t panic. Frequent exposure to these heavy metals through the juice is a concern,” said Dickerson.

The Juice Products Association, whose board of directors includes executives from PepsiCo, Welch’s and other juice brands whose products were tested, said they haven’t seen the full study but called the results “unfounded” and told CBS News they are committed to providing “safe & nutritious” products that meet Food and Drug Administration standards.

They also said that there is “no scientific evidence” indicating that trace levels of heavy metals have caused any negative health outcomes.

Dr. Leo Trasande, Director of Environmental Pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine, says, “The science is telling us increasingly that there are particular time points in life when even a small amount of exposure, for example, can disrupt hormones and thereby contribute to disease.”

In 2013, the FDA proposed limiting inorganic arsenic in apple juice but no change was ever made.

The FDA had no comment.

Consumer Reports says their findings are a “spot check” and “should not be used to draw definitive conclusions about specific brands.”

CBS News reached out to all of the juice companies. Ten responded saying their products are safe and follow all food safety guidelines.

Consumer Reports says the metals found in seven of the 21 samples had the potential to harm children who drink only a half cup per day.

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