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    FDA: High Arsenic Levels in Some Juice Samples continued...

    Total arsenic isn't the point, however. Organic arsenic isn't currently considered dangerous. But inorganic arsenic is deadly -- and Consumer Reports says that most of the arsenic in apple and grape juice is inorganic.

    How much inorganic arsenic is a problem? The FDA currently worries about 23 ppb. But Consumer Reports says the cutoff should be much lower: 3 ppb for arsenic and 5 ppb for lead.

    Can juice be made that safe? Apparently so. Over 40% of the juice tested by Consumer Reports had less than 3 ppb of arsenic and less than 5 ppb of lead.

    In a Nov. 21 letter to consumer groups that had urged the FDA to set safety limits for arsenic in apple juice, the FDA hinted that it's getting ready to take action.

    "We are seriously considering setting guidance or other level for inorganic arsenic in apple juice and are collecting all relevant information to evaluate and determine an appropriate level," wrote Michael M. Landa, acting director of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

    What "guidance or other level" means is hard to know. The FDA has the authority to make a formal rule setting an absolute tolerance level for heavy metals. But making such a rule is a lengthy process, and one that FDA almost never uses for chemicals.

    The Juice Products Association says "juice is safe for consumers of all ages."

    In a statement issued in response to the Consumer Reports article, the industry group said: "The juice industry adheres to FDA guidelines and juice products sold in the U.S. and will continue to proactively meet or exceed the federal standards."

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