Arsenic in Imported Juice: Searching for Made in USA Apple Juice

With the plentiful options available for local produce throughout America, you would think fruit juice made in USA would be readily available. Though locally grown apples are abundant, the vast majority of these apples are sold as fresh produce, resulting in an astounding 85% of apple juice sold in the US being imported. In fact, most commercial apple juice is made from concentrate imported from China and has made headlines after arsenic was discovered in many major brands.

US Apple Association

US Apple Association

Washington state used to dominate the apple juice market until the 90′s, when Chinese imports began increasing 3,000 times over the next decade. The result was many small Washington farms put out of business and the apple juice market becoming saturated with imported juices. Chinese apples have been reported to be of inferior taste and quality, making them suitable for juicing, while higher quality American apples are reserved for fresh produce.

Arsenic in apple juice first made headlines in 2011. Arsenic contamination occurs from the use of pesticides on the apple crops. The average amount of arsenic found in apple juice tested was 5 parts per billion (ppb), with over 30 brands testing over 10 ppb. The current FDA level of concern set at 23 ppb. As recently as a week ago the FDA announced it is setting new limits for arsenic levels in apple juice. These limits would set the acceptable level at 10 ppb, the same as the limit for water. Though trace levels of arsenic are found naturally in the environment, long-term exposure to higher levels like those detected in imported juices have been linked with health effects, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological defects and diabetes.

Tree Top Label

Tree Top Label

A country of origin label is mandatory for any apple juice made with imported concentrate. When I checked a few local grocery stores for made in USA options (including Trader Joe’s, Super Fresh and Whole Foods), I found that all the apple juices available were made from concentrate from China, Argentina, Brazil and USA. There was no 100% made in USA juice for sale. I did some more research online and found two options for made in USA apple juice; Treetop, sold mostly to warehouse clubs and restaurants, and Martenelli‘s, a kosher variety. If you are looking for a safe, American made option for apple juice, the other alternatives are to do your own juicing with locally sourced apples, purchase apple cider available at most farmer’s markets or buy pure apple juices not made from concentrate.

Arsenic has the potential for alarming health effects, particularly with long-term exposure. It is particularly disturbing that the current FDA standards allow for higher levels of arsenic in apple juice than in drinking water. With the knowledge in hand about imported apple juice and the safety concerns, consider American made options or juices not from concentrate. And as always, keep checking those labels!

Does your family purchase and drink apple juice? Does the news of arsenic contamination concern  you? How do  you feel about the proposed changes to the acceptable levels of arsenic? Have you found any local made in USA options for juice?

Comments

  1. says

    This just further encourages me to avoid juice with my kids. I love making fresh applesauce but haven’t tried to make juice. I’m going to check labels on my food more now!

    • says

      Unfortunately an organic label will not protect you here. If the juice is made from concentrate, it by law has to list the country of origin on the label – so check there.

  2. says

    I don’t drink apple juice and am now wondering what to do with arsenic being found in rice. It’s really frustrating since brown rice is such a healthy grain, I’m not sure what to do! It’s hard for consumers out there, do we take the risk? With the levels of arsenic in apple juice, I certainly wouldn’t feed it to my nieces and nephew!

  3. Carolyn says

    I would rather buy apples produced in the USA and not take a chance with apple juice made with apples from China that is unhealthy and even poisonous. It is usually better to eat organic whole fruits and vegetables that are grown in the USA.

    It is still possible to buy “not from concentrate” orange juice that is made from American grown oranges. But it is not as easy to find frozen orange juice made from USA grown oranges. Check the labels.

  4. Amelia says

    Indian Summer is another that uses only USA sourced apples. Im okay with it not being organic if it’s made in the USA.

    • Alex says

      I’m not convinced Langers uses 100% US apples in its juices. It says their juice “includes” Washington apples. It doesn’t say “only.” It’s so frustrating!

      • Phil says

        Just wrote Langers about their apple sources and here is their reply.
        “All of our apples are from the US. This will be more clearly stated on the next version of our labels, including a profile of one of our growers north of you.”

  5. says

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  6. AJ says

    Hansen’s claims that their Trifecta apple juice is made from 100% US grown apples as well.

  7. Sasha M. says

    This is not only affecting apple juice. Almost all juices that I can find are made with imported concentrate.

  8. says

    I just happened to see the ‘concentrate from China’ stamp on my daughter’s Juicy Juice box. The irony is that we are literally surrounded by apple and peach orchards where we live. I guess I”ll have to add apple juice to the list of things I need to make at home now.

    Thanks for the article. I’ll have to browse through your wonderful website. I’ll also recommend you check out Cherry Republic for a great American small business. I’ve been visiting and ordering products from them for a few years. All made in Northern Michigan.
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  9. Keelia Carver says

    Ryan’s Juice. It’s made in Hood River, Oregon – about two hours from where I live. And it is good juice!

    But I do think it is only available in the pacific northwest.

    http://ryansjuice.com/

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