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FDA to Set New Standards Regarding Arsenic Levels Found in Apple Juice

Update Date: Jul 12, 2013 01:53 AM EDT

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is setting a new limit on the level of arsenic allowed in apple juice, after more than a year of public pressure from consumer groups worried about the contaminant's effects on children.

The FDA says most apple juice has always been safe, but the new limit will help reduce exposure to the chemical. Apple juice is second only to orange juice in popularity nationwide, according to industry groups.

The new standard for arsenic, a carcinogen when consumed in large enough quantities, is 10 parts per billion, equal to the level that the Environmental Protection Agency has set for arsenic in drinking water.

Experts said the allowable amount was relatively conservative since people typically drink far less apple juice than water.

This is the first time that the agency has set a limit for arsenic levels in food.  Several months later, Consumer Reports published an investigation that found elevated levels of the toxic type.

"Overall the supply of apple juice is very safe and does not represent a threat to public health," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, told The Associated Press. "We decided to put forward this proposed action level to give guidance to industry and to assure ongoing safety and quality."

An FDA analysis last year found that 95 percent of apple juice brands sampled were already below the new standard.

Companies that continue to market juices over the limit could have their product seized and face legal action.

According to the report, the FDA will take public comments on the regulation for 60 days before making it final. 

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