Toxic Metals Found in Popular Fruit Juices, Study Says

Grape juice and juice blends had the highest average heavy metal levels, according to Consumer Reports
toxic juice
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Trader Joe’s Fresh Pressed Apple Juice was allegedly the only product found to be above the FDA’s proposed limit for inorganic arsenic.

If your household drinks fruit juice, you may want to reconsider which types you’re buying. Nonprofit ratings and review site Consumer Reports recently tested 45 fruit juices sold nationwide, and according to the findings, popular brands including Welch’s, Mott’s and Minute Maid could contain heavy metals toxic to human health.

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Researchers sampled apple, grape and pear juices as well as fruit blends and found that every product in the test had measurable levels of at least one of the following: cadmium, inorganic arsenic, lead or mercury. Twenty-one of the 45 juices tested had “concerning” levels of at least one metal. Heavy metals in food and drink are obviously unhealthy for adults, but children are the most vulnerable to their harmful effects.

Jennifer Lowry, who is the director of clinical pharmacology, toxicology and therapeutic innovations at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, told Consumer Reports that “exposure to these metals early on can affect [children’s] whole life trajectory. There is so much development happening in their first years of life.”

Depending on which kinds of metals kids are exposed to and for how long, effects could include lowered IQ, behavioral problems including ADHD, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and more. Although it’s less common, adults could also develop health concerns including bladder, lung and skin cancer, cognitive and reproductive issues, and Type 2 diabetes.

To conduct this research, Consumer Reports purchased three samples of each product from retailers across the nation and categorized the products based on the quantity of juice that would present an exposure risk. Here’s a glimpse of the results:

Potential risk at 1 Cup (8 ounces) or more per day:

  • Gold Emblem (CVS) 100% Apple Juice
  • Great Value (Walmart) 100% Juice, Apple
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Apple
  • 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods) Organic 100% Juice, Concord Grape
  • Gerber White Grape Juice
  • Gold Emblem (CVS) 100% Grape Juice
  • R.W. Knudsen Organic Pear 100% Juice
  • 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods) Organic 100% Juice, Grape Cranberry
  • Great Value (Walmart) 100% Juice, Cranberry Grape
  • Juicy Juice 100% Juice, White Grape
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Apple Grape Juice

Potential risk at 1/2 cup (4 ounces) or more per day:

  • Trader Joe’s Fresh Pressed Apple Juice, 100% Juice
  • 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods) Organic 100% Juice, Concord Grape
  • R.W. Knudsen Organic Just Concord Grape Juice
  • Welch’s 100% Grape Juice, Concord Grape
  • Welch’s 100% Grape Juice, White Grape
  • Great Value (Walmart) 100% Juice, Cranberry Grape
  • Welch’s 100% Juice With Antioxidant Superberry

Juice boxes and pouches, potential risk at more than one per day:

  • Trader Joe’s Joe’s Kids Apple Juice
  • Minute Maid 100% Apple Juice
  • Juicy Juice 100% Juice, Fruit Punch
  • Minute Maid 100% Juice, Fruit Punch
  • Mott’s 100% Juice, Apple White Grape

“[Our] highest priority is to provide safe and high quality products people can trust,” a spokesperson for Coca-Cola, which owns Minute Maid and Honest Kids, told Consumer Reports. “Our juice brands obtain fruit from many different growers and all of our suppliers must adhere to the established U.S. inspections and regulations as well as our strict company policies if they want us to buy their product. This is done to ensure that the juice that reaches our consumer’s table is safe, fresh tasting and fully compliant with . . . regulations and laws.”

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To see the methodology, full results and statements from juice brand spokespeople regarding the results of the study, visit Consumer Reports’ website by clicking here. On the same page, you can also view “better alternative” juices to seek out instead of the kinds listed above. Or maybe just drink some water? This is what can happen if you don’t.