Is apple juice poisoning our children? Dr. Oz v Dr. Besser smackdown
September 15, 2011, 10:01 pm
Former University of Pennsylvania Medical School classmates Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Richard Besser went at it today on “Good Morning America” over the issue of whether arsenic in apple juice constituted a potential toxic risk for children.
A recent episode of “The Dr. Oz Show” revealed test results measuring levels of arsenic in samples of different brands of apple juice. Oz claimed that results showed that some samples had levels as much as three times the accepted limit for drinking water of 10 parts per billion. Although this was presented as an alarming finding that could lead to cancer and other medical and neurological illnesses, Oz hedged by stating he was not claiming anyone was being poisoned by apple juice, and that he would not stop his own kids from consuming it. (Videos of segments of “The Dr. Oz Show” relating to arsenic and apple juice seem to have been removed today from the program’s website.)
Besser — former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry – sharply criticized Oz’s coverage of this issue, stating: “Mehmet, I’m very upset about this, I think that this was extremely irresponsible. It reminds me of yelling fire in a movie theater.”
The Food and Drug Administration called the implication that arsenic in apple juice constituted a potential toxic threat “irresponsible and misleading“, pointing out that the show’s tests measured only total arsenic levels, and did not distinguish nontoxic organic arsenic from the toxic inorganic form. The FDA noted that the acceptable level of 10 ppb was based on intake from drinking water, which is consumed in much greater quantities than is apple juice. They also pointed out that their tests of the the same batches analyzed on the show revealed much lower levels of arsenic, well below 10 ppb.