Fruit juice might seem like a healthy option, but it’s faced criticism as a “healthy” option for the amount of sugar it contains. Now a new report from Consumer Reports has found “concerning levels” of heavy metals in kids’ juice.
Consumer Reports recently tested 45 popular juice brands sold across the country and found elevated—and potentially harmful—levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead in nearly half of the brands tested, including juices branded specifically for kids. Every product tested had measurable levels of at least one of the heavy metals including cadmium, inorganic arsenic, lead and mercury.
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Twenty-one of the 45 juices had concerning levels of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, and/or lead. Of those 21, seven could harm kids who drink 4 ounces (half a cup) or more per day; another nine brands pose risks to kids who drink 8 ounces (one cup) or more per day. Five of those products were packaged in juice boxes or pouches.
The report also found that grape juice and juice blends had the highest average heavy metal levels and that organic juices did not have any lower levels of metals than conventional ones.
“Exposure to these metals early on can affect their whole life trajectory,” says Jennifer Lowry, M.D., chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health. “There is so much development happening in their first years of life.”
So what can parents do to keep kids safe? The best way to minimize exposure to heavy metals in fruit juice is to lower the consumption of fruit juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) already recommends limiting juice intake because of the sugar levels that can contribute to risk of developing cavities and obesity. The AAP recommendation is no juice before age one and limited levels for kids one and up. Ultimately, it is up to parents to research the products they buy and decide what is best for their families.
You can see the full Consumer Reports chart on the juices tested here.