Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), Senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee was joined by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Senior Democrat on the House Appropriates Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education and consumer health advocates on Wednesday to introduce the "Arsenic Prevention and Protection from Lead Exposure in Juice Act of 2012'' or "APPLE Juice Act of 2012." The bill will protect children from arsenic and lead in fruit juices. A Consumer Reports investigation revealed alarmingly high levels of arsenic and lead in apple and grape juice in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
The disturbing report found ten percent of the sampled juices from five brands contained arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards, and 25 percent contained lead levels higher than the federal standards for bottled water. Arsenic and lead are known to affect brain development in children.
"The unacceptable levels of arsenic and lead in juices currently sitting on shelves at the supermarket present a danger for our children and their health," said Pallone. "Setting basic standards for arsenic and lead in products whose consumers are primarily children is not only the right thing to do, it will help give parents the peace of mind that the juices their children drink daily are safe," he added.
The APPLE Juice Act requires that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establish standards for arsenic and lead in fruit juices in two years time. Currently the Agency has standards limiting these toxins for bottled water, but not fruit juices.
"I am proud to join Rep. Pallone in introducing the APPLE Juice Act, which will require the FDA to establish standards for arsenic and lead in juices. We must ensure that the juices our children drink are safe, particularly when 70 percent of the apple juice we consume comes from China," said DeLauro. "It is our job, and the FDA's job, to ensure the health and safety of the American people. This legislation will help to make that happen."
Although pediatricians have recommended that children limit their daily juice intake, 35 percent of children under five drink more juice than recommended. The APPLE Juice Act will work to protect children from harmful health effects of significant juice consumption.
"This bill will go a long way in protecting the public, especially children, from being exposed to these toxins. We're grateful for this effort to ensure the public's health and safety are protected," said Ami Gadhia, Senior Policy Counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports.
"Seven months ago, Food & Water Watch and the Empire State Consumer Project wrote to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg asking that the agency set tolerance levels for arsenic in apple juice. This is an important public health issue and we are pleased that Congressman Pallone's bill addresses the concerns we have been raising since July," remarked Tony Corbo, Legislative Representative for Food & Water Watch.