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FDA Proposes Arsenic Action Level for Apple Juice

July 14, 2013

On July 12, 2013 the FDA announced a proposed action level of 10 ppb (parts per billion) for arsenic in apple juice. The 10 ppb is the same as EPA arsenic in drinking water standards.

“The FDA is committed to ensuring the safety of the American food supply and to doing what is necessary to protect public health. “We have been studying this issue comprehensively, and based on the agency’s data and analytical work, the FDA is confident in the overall safety of apple juice for children and adults.” “While the levels of arsenic in apple juice are very low, the FDA is proposing an action level to help prevent public exposure to the occasional lots of apple juice with arsenic levels above those permitted in drinking water,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy Commissioner for Foods.

The FDA is establishing this threshold to provide guidance to industry however the agency may take the action level into account when considering an enforcement action, if it finds a food product exceeds the threshold.

The FDA indicated that it has been monitoring the presence of arsenic in apple juice for the last 20 years and has found that most samples contain levels of arsenic that are low. Last year the FDA released findings from an analysis of 94 samples of arsenic in apple juice. 95 percent of the apple juice samples tested were below 10 ppb total arsenic; 100 percent of the samples were below 10 ppb for inorganic arsenic, the carcinogenic form of arsenic. The assessment is based on lifetime exposure. Inorganic arsenic may be found in foods because it is present in the environment, both as a naturally occurring mineral and because of activity such as past use of certain pesticides.

Of interest for Prop 65 practicioners, will be how this number impacts Prop 65 levels. Currently there is a NSRL (No Significant Risk Level ) for inorganic arsenic of 10 micrograms per day. The NSRL for Proposition 65 is the intake associated with a lifetime risk of one in 100,000 for cancer.

The agency will accept public comments proposed action level for 60 days.