|LIVING WELL: Apple juice no longer American product
|Thursday, June 7, 2012 12:00 am.
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|In case you haven’t noticed, most of the apple juice products available today originate in China.
Dr. Mark Kestner
My wife, who is a vigilant label reader, just noticed this week that the apple juice she was buying for our daughter was labeled a “product of China.”
Why on earth are Americans buying apple juice from China?
Well, for the same reason American consumers buy everything else from China: It’s cheaper.
China now supplies more than two-thirds of the apple juice consumed in this country.
A few years ago, Chinese apple products began hitting the shelves the product costs the manufacturer about a third of what a similar American product costs. It doesn’t require a lot of thought to realize what is going to happen if one supplier charges a third of what another supplier charges – the manufacturer is going to start buying the cheaper product.
My guess is that if you went into the local supermarket and glanced at two different products for your child, and one was labeled boldly that the apple juice had been imported from China and the other was labeled that it was made from American apples, you would reach for the latter product.
However, the labels don’t proclaim the source of the apples quite so proudly.
They exclaim wholesome-sounding things like “100 percent juice” and “no sugar added” on the front in large print, and quietly mention its from China in small print on the back.
In some cases, the words disclosing the Chinese sourcing are not printed at all, but rather die-cut into the paper label with a series of small holes to spell out the words.
Late last year, a controversy erupted after Dr. Oz of “The Dr. Oz Show” had requested tests on apple juice that revealed the presence of arsenic in greater than the 10 parts per billion allowed in safe drinking water by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
According to Dr. Oz, at least part of the problem is that foreign growers continue to use pesticides containing arsenic, which have been banned in the United States for decades. This is speculated to be the source of the inorganic arsenic found in the apple juice.
The apple juice industry quickly jumped on that report to voice their opposition and drew the U.S. Federal Drug Administration into the mix.
Even though officials within the industry readily admitted that apple juice contains arsenic, they insisted fruit juice is allowed to contain up to 23 parts per billion of the poison.
Fruit juice is judged by a different standard than drinking water, according to the industry, because people drink more water.
The FDA also responded since being implicated in the Dr. Oz report.
Its response indicated that the agency is concerned about the presence of inorganic arsenic in apple juice and the increased risk of cancer that it creates.
FDA officials have indicated testing strategies are being revised. Do you feel safer now?
Despite the fact that the fruit juice companies insists the product is just as safe as if it were produced entirely by American producers, suspicions persist regarding the Chinese agricultural industry.
Only a few years ago, several toddlers died and more than 300,000 were sickened as a result of dairy products being tainted with the industrial product melamine.
You may recall that some Chinese dairy producers were intentionally adding melamine to the milk, along with water, to fool the quality testing equipment.
Although the equipment would reveal that the milk was diluted with water to increase profits, if melamine were added, the substance would remain undetected.
In April 2011, 26 tons of melamine-tainted dry milk product was seized from a Chinese ice cream maker.
Obviously, quality control in the food industry continues to be a concern for China.