WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed stricter standards for arsenic levels in apple juice.

Under the plan, apple juice containing more than 10 parts per billion of inorganic arsenic will be removed from the market. That is down from 23 ppb that the FDA set in 2008 as a “level of concern,” and is the same level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for arsenic in drinking water.

The FDA noted, however, that most brands are already below the 10 ppb threshold, and that agency testing confirms the overall safety of apple juice.


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“While the levels of arsenic in apple juice are very low, the FDA is proposing an action level to help prevent public exposure to the occasional lots of apple juice with arsenic levels above those permitted in drinking water,” said Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in a statement.

Inorganic arsenic may be found in foods because it is present in the environment, both as a naturally occurring mineral and because of activity such as past use of arsenic-containing pesticides. A known carcinogen, inorganic arsenic also has been associated with skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity, and diabetes.

The agency will accept public comments on the proposed action level and the risk assessment for 60 days.

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