Posted by: Green Knight | March 1, 2012

Kickapoo Joy Juice

This just in from CU. See my comments afterwards.

February 8, 2012

Consumers Union: Pallone Bill to Limit Arsenic, Lead in Fruit Juices Helps Protect Public from Toxins
Consumer Reports tests of arsenic and lead levels in certain apple, grape juices raise concerns

WASHINGTON – Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, today announced its strong support for a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.) to direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set specific limits on lead and total arsenic in fruit juices.

“This bill will go a long way toward protecting the public, especially children, from exposure to these toxins,” said Ami Gadhia, Senior Policy Counsel for Consumers Union.

In its January 2012 issue Consumer Reports published test results on arsenic and lead levels in 88 samples of apple and grape juices. Approximately 10 percent of the sampled juices contained arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards. Most of the arsenic found in the testing was inorganic; inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen. Consumer Reports also found that about 25 percent of the samples contained lead levels higher than the federal standards for bottled water.

Based on these test results, Consumers Union has called on the federal government to set formal standards to limit the amount of arsenic and lead in fruit juices.

“We’re grateful for this effort to ensure the public’s health and safety are protected,” Gadhia said.

They got the science right. For some reason, arsenic in organic (carbon-based) compounds is less hazardous than in inorganic forms, whereas lead is more hazardous in any compounds – organic or inorganic – than in pure state. Chemistry is weird. However, certain points require some clarification for the uninitiated. They mention drinking-water standards. Those are administered under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) by the EPA, and do not apply to juice, as that isn’t drinking water, it’s a food product (although the drinking water standards do make a good yardstick).  They also mention “federal standards for bottled water.” You might think that those standards would be handled by EPA, but you’d be wrong.

SDWA only applies to public water supplies. PUBLIC water supplies. If you have your own private well, you’re totally on your own; I guess that’d be the Libertarian ideal (I always figured it must be something in the water with those folks anyway). If you live in a trailer park, and it’s supplied by a well, that does constitute a public supply, albeit to a very small  public, and is covered by SDWA. Bottled water is not a “water supply,” and is thus regulated by the Food & Drug Administration instead, as a “food.” FDA also is responsible for standards for the gallon jugs of spring,  distilled, or drinking water you see on the shelf at the grocery store and in the 5-gallon bottle on the water-cooler at the office. Their standards are more lax than EPA’s, and don’t cover nearly as many contaminants. Here in St. Louis, the city water supply is rated as among the best in the nation. Seems counter-intuitive, eh? The main issue with public supplies is lead from old solder on joints, or even solid lead pipes on really old systems. Copper from piping is a lesser but still regulated issue, under the 1991 Lead and Copper Rule, part of SDWA and found in 40 CFR 141.

So, your juice and bottled water can be nastier than the stuff coming out of your tap. How about that? I’ve always noticed that the people who complain about the (relatively miniscule) health & safety budgets, or clamor to do away with regulations, or even want to eliminate entire agencies, are very smug about their low-tax stance, until it’s THEIR kids that are potentially getting impacted. Then they expect the EPA director to immediately come screeching up in a hazmat response rig and fix the problem right then & there. Such unrealistic expectations exemplify the lack of critical-thinking ability in society. “We slashed your budget by 30%, but we can’t have little Augustus Percy Hornswoggle III getting lead-poisoning like all those poor people!”

The worst part of it is, most of the time people like that are so arrogant that they don’t even realize they’re being hypocrites. I’m not just picking on the rich here, either; I’ve seen the same kind of double standard in blue-collar folks who keep voting for the very people that are screwing them over, because they’re “patriotic.” I gave up trying to be Socrates and using the reductio ad absurdum argument, because most opponents lack the attention span to see it through to its logical conclusion. Maybe too much lead in their bloodstream?










lead fruit courtesy of willarddaniels on SpudFiles




  1. Occasionally there is some good news on the environmental front, thank goodness. Thanks for sharing this info Bob!

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