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Public Statements

Letter to Deputy Administrator Dominic Mancini, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs - Levels of Arsenic in Juice

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

In a letter sent yesterday, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education, requested that the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) release the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) voluntary industry guidelines for levels of arsenic in fruit juices. OMB is currently reviewing the document.

"We believe that while FDA should implement enforceable standards for the maximum allowable levels of arsenic in rice and juice, the Agency's guidance document on arsenic in juice is an important first step that will inform and educate industry and consumers," state Pallone and DeLauro in the letter. "We applaud FDA for its efforts to address the issue and develop new guidelines to reduce the risk posed by arsenic in apple juice. It is inexcusable that these guidelines are stalled while consumers continue to be exposed to potentially dangerous levels of arsenic."

In addition to calling for the release of FDA's voluntary guidelines, Pallone and DeLauro introduced the Arsenic Prevention and Protection from Lead Exposure in Juice Act of 2012 or APPLE Juice Act of 2012" last Congress, which would require FDA to establish enforceable standards for arsenic and lead in fruit juices. The bill was introduced following a Consumer Reports study that revealed alarmingly high levels of arsenic and lead in apple and grape juice in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen that can increase the risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancers. Pallone and DeLauro plan to introduce a similar bill in the coming months.

Full text of the letter follows:

May 7, 2013

The Honorable Dominic Mancini

Deputy Administrator
Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Office of Management and Budget
Washington, D.C. 20503

Dear Deputy Administrator Mancini:

We write today to urge you to release the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance document regarding arsenic levels in juice that is currently under review at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Studies have found concerning levels of arsenic in food and beverages which pose a significant public health threat, especially to children. FDA's guidance document will be instrumental to industry and consumers alike as they attempt to address this public health issue.

Consumer Reports published an investigation in January 2012 that found widely variable levels of arsenic and another heavy metal in juice products purchased in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Ten percent of the juices sampled contained arsenic, mostly inorganic arsenic, which exceeded federal drinking-water standards. As you may know, inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen that can increase the risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancers. The findings are particularly worrisome because children consume large quantities of juice and may be at more risk for harmful effects from inorganic arsenic exposure.

We believe that while FDA should implement enforceable standards for the maximum allowable levels of arsenic in rice and juice, the Agency's guidance document on arsenic in juice is an important first step that will inform and educate industry and consumers.

We applaud FDA for its efforts to address the issue and develop new guidelines to reduce the risk posed by arsenic in apple juice. It is inexcusable that these guidelines are stalled while consumers continue to be exposed to potentially dangerous levels of arsenic. We look forward to your expeditious review and timely release of this guidance document so FDA can better fulfill its mission of protecting and promoting the public health.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Frank Pallone, Jr. Rosa L. DeLauro
Member of Congress Member of Congress


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