Dr. Oz Under Fire From FDA For Arsenic In Apple Juice Claims

Former Acting Head Of The CDC Calls It 'Fear-Mongering'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Food and Drug Administration and a leading doctor are refuting claims by television show host Dr. Mehmet Oz that trace amounts of arsenic in many apple juice products pose a health risk.

Oz said on his show on Wednesday that testing by a New Jersey lab has found what he claims are concerning levels of arsenic in many juices.

“After testing dozens of samples from three different cities in America, Dr. Oz discovered that some of the nation’s best known brands of apple juice contain arsenic,”  the Dr. Oz Show says on its website.

To see Dr. Oz’s full report on arsenic in apple juice, click here.

However, the FDA says the lab methods were not appropriate and that its own tests show much lower arsenic levels.

“Arsenic is present in the environment as a naturally occurring substance or as a result of contamination from human activity,” the FDA says on its website. “It is found in water, air, food, and soil in organic and inorganic forms.”

The agency warned the show’s producers in advance that their testing was misleading.

“The Food and Drug Administration has every confidence in the safety of apple juice,” the FDA says, adding “…there is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices.”

Dr. Richard Besser, former acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also scolded Oz Thursday on ABC’s Good Morning America show for scaring consumers with what Besser called an “extremely irresponsible” report.

“I’m very upset about this,” Besser said on the show. “Putting out this kind of a health warning, manufacturing a health crisis based on faulty, incomplete data. This fear-mongering reminds me of yelling fire in a movie theater.”

But Oz defended his position.

“We looked at the total arsenic levels because that’s what the FDA looks at, that’s what the EPA evaluates initially and in addition, your assumption that organic arsenic is safe is not true,” Oz said. “There is a lot of debate over the safety of organic arsenic and the body converts inorganic arsenic into some types of organic arsenic that are very toxic so it is misleading to claim that all the organic arsenic is safe.”

To see the lab results from the Dr. Oz Show, click here.

Prior to the show’s airing, the FDA sent the Dr. Oz Show two letters.

The first letter, sent on Sept. 9, reads in part:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is aware that EMSL Analytical, Inc. has obtained and tested 50 samples of retail apple juice for total arsenic content on behalf of Zoco Productions. It is our understanding that, based on these test results, you will assert during an upcoming episode of The Dr. Oz Show that apple juice is unsafe because of the amounts of total arsenic found in the samples.

We appreciate that you have made the results of these tests available to us. As we have previously advised you, the results from total arsenic tests CANNOT be used to determine whether a food is unsafe because of its arsenic content. We have explained to you that arsenic occurs naturally in many foods in both inorganic and organic forms and that only the inorganic forms of arsenic are toxic, depending on the amount. We have advised you that the test for total arsenic DOES NOT distinguish inorganic arsenic from organic arsenic.”

To read the full letter from Sept. 9, click here.

In a second letter sent to the show on Sept. 13, the FDA says they did their own testing on apple juice samples from Nestle/Gerber.

The letter states it found that “…the results of the tests cited above do not indicate that apple juice contains unsafe amounts of arsenic. The FDA reaffirms its belief, as stated in our September 9, 2011 letter, that it would be irresponsible and misleading for the Dr. Oz Show to suggest that apple juice is unsafe based on tests for total arsenic.”

To read the full letter from Sept. 13, click here.

A number of juice companies as well as the Juice Products Association have also responded to the arsenic in apple juice claim.

“The results of tests for arsenic in apple juice that were shared by the Dr. Oz Show with the Juice Products Association should not be interpreted as fact,” the JPA says on its website. “Test results reported by the Dr. Oz Show were based upon a method intended for testing water.   The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a specific method for testing fruit juice because juice contains many more naturally occurring compounds than water.”

To read the full response from the Juice Productions Association, click here.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

We want to know what you think. Sound off below in our comments section…

  • barry

    I liked the comment…”why do we tolerate any arsenic in our food?”
    It kills bugs and it kills people in the right dose. FDA has the duty to oversee and regulate our food supply…they should do it.
    Kudos to Dr OZ for flushing out this problem.

  • HVG

    Dr Oz is the worst of ratings chasers.
    He is a cardiologist, not a toxicologist. Talk to an expert that understands what they are talking about before you decide where the truth lies.

  • Tricia Bledsoe

    You want to know what I think? I think Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil should jello-wrestle.The winner can then advise us how to live our lives to the best of our abilities.

  • NYer in NJ

    What everybody here is overlooking is the fact that apple juice is not that healthy to begin with. It’s essentially just sugary water with very little nutrition. You’re better off drinking a tall glass of water and eating a fresh apple!

  • Steve

    The Wizard of OZ. Dr. Oz is a fraud.

    • Toto

      Do not arouse the wrath of the great and powerful Oz. :)

  • pete

    The FDA is a very corrupt Government Agency. There is a lot of money involved in the food industry. Dr.Oz is an honest and knowing person and he has nothing to gain from his report, just grief and slander from the food industry. The FDA has lost its credibility a long time ago like so many other Government Agencies.

    • FDA

      Up yours, Pete!

      • you go Pete

        Your Mama’s

  • gotacomment

    The nature and extent of your comments make me think you work for the FDA or are connected to someone who does, Michael H. As has been pointed out, Memet Oz is a prominent cardiac surgeon, He doesn’t need a tv show to put food on his table. He wants to get the word out about a lot of things because he’d frankly like to see fewer patients with lifestyle-generated heart disease. The FDA is a corrupt bureaucracy deeply indebted to the industries it is supposed to be regulating. Dr. Frances Kelsey fought the FDA tooth and nail to ban thalidomide back in the early ’60s and even though she worked for the agency and was proved right, they crucified her. They’re in bed with agribusiness, factory farming and drug makers. On that note, I’d really like to know how many CEOs of these mega corporations actually eat the garbage they foist off on us. My guess is not many.

    • Skeptical Testicle

      You sound like you are one of Dr. Oz’s minions. Else, how could you know his motivation here?

      • gotacomment

        Who mentioned motivation? Logic indicates if he wa only after money he wouldh’t be taking time out of his operating schedule to do a daily tv show.

  • Nick

    Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance in food you brainless twits. Just ban food in general, right?

    • Michael H.

      better ban dihydrogen monoxide while they’re at it. it’s the deadliest substance known to man, after all.

      • FDA

        Per your request Michael, the FDA is considering marginalizing dihydrogen monoxide, otherwise known as H20, and have been in talks with many leading corporate industrialists and lobbyists to pass legaslation to protect the consumer from the dangers of H20. Thank you for your comment in supporting a future FDA decision.

  • P. Johnston

    Why are any U.S. companies importing concentrated apples from China, Brazil and Argentina? Is the “bottom line” so important that they would risk the health of American children? It’s totally disgusting and I commend Dr. Oz for bringing it to the attention of the general public. My daughter lived on apple juice when she was young. It was her drink of choice and I’m sure many children use it as their drink of choice. Why is ANY arsenic present in apple juice at all? Shame on all the companies involved. I personally avoid buying anything that comes from China. Remember the dog food and the baby formula incidents? How quickly we forget. What a shame.


    People who are in denial about arsenic, have you ever seen a report from your water company? You might be surprised to read that there is arsenic and a whole bunch of other stuff in there that you had no idea about. That’s why you should use a quality water filter to remove some of these trace elements. There’s chlorine – how does that taste? Pretty awful. In NYC there’s flouride added – that’s why the water foams as it fills your glass from the tap.

    As far as the FDA goes – they are the most corrupt agency. Nobody believes a word they say but everybody is afraid of them.

    • Slim Pickens

      Now they want to ban or make unaffordable vitamins and supplements. Another agency in the pocket of the Pharmaceutical industry.

    • Michael H.

      The water has bubbles and seems to foam because there are gases like oygen and nitrogen trapped in it. There are dissolved gases in water because it is cold and under pressure as it moves through the pipes into your home. Check in other cities and you’ll find that the tap water has bubbles all the same, even when it’s well water or in a city without flouride in the water.

      • Justin

        Go ahead and lovingly drink your city water, hey maybe use a Brita filter!

        Expect cancer down the road.

      • Lynn Flatulencia

        Sometimes my bath water makes bubbles, why is that?

  • sk

    i don’t know which side to agree but its important for people to find out opinions from both sides and not side with DR. Oz just because he is famous and is on TV! People also have to realize they may have agreed w/ Dr. Oz has said in the past, and in this one case he could be wrong!

    • Claude

      It wouldn’t be the first time he’s said something incorrect. On 1010WINS, I heard him advise people to get some sun for vitamin D, but to put on sunscreen first. Actually sunscreen prevents the bodily processes that make vitamin D. He’s not an oracle or infallible by any means.

  • jk

    I’m not a doctor, but I think my orange juice contains old lace.

    • fred5

      I’m off to Panama. Charge!!!!


  • Joe

    Why would anyone in their right mind believe anything the FDA states? They are corrupt, incompetent and as far as I am concerned have very little credibility. Most members of the FDA were at one time executives in the pharmaceutical industry. Need I say more….these aholes are only interested in protecting the interests of the pharmaceutical industrial complex and its stockholders!

    • DNY

      Dr. Oz isnt much better, it is a TV show looking for better ratings…

    • Michael H.

      So we can safely assume you do not use any prescription or over-the-counter medication, since the FDA is evil and anything they say or do can’t be trusted, right?

  • Ellen

    Isn’t a lot of this apple juice coming from China, so what’s the big surprise here. God don’t we make anything here in the US? Now that’s scary to begin with.

  • Scott Severin

    Besser hit the mark when he exposed Oz for the fraud he is. Oz simply says “disregard the man behind the curtain” and continues on with his pied piper existence. All those sheep follwoing Dr. Oz are a disappointment.

  • Linda

    I am a bit wary of the Dr Oz show. I saw a cosmetic procedure of having Restylane injected in tear troughs to diminish under eye circles on the Dr Oz show. The guest Dr did the procedure live on the air. He did mention it was an off label use of the Restylane to inject in this area. I was definitely game because I suffered with dark circles all of my life. Up until this point my only alternative was surgery. Well I did the procedure.

    I developed a huge lump under one of my eyes months after the injections. I am in the process of trying to get this corrected. Restylane under the eye is an off label use and I have been advised it does not react the same way as it should because of the delicate nature of the eye area. Thus it is not advised. My question is why did Dr Oz promote it in the first place if it was an off label use .

    • Lumpy

      I’m developing a huge lump in my pants.

    • Justin

      “I was definitely game because I suffered with dark circles (under my eyes) all of my life”

      Did you ever think about getting proper nutritional intake or better sleep patterns? I’m sure that would save you going under the knife, which is only a temporary quick fix solution anyway. If anything it will just get worse, as you already mentioned. I am not surprised. I hope you resolve your issues.


    good job DR. OZ. not so GOOD point michael . The fda ha! doing what a lot longer? How many ads. do we hear on tv. that say this could cause…this ……and this …have an open mind.

    • Michael H.

      Those ads are on TV because the FDA requires the drug companies to inform the consumer of side effects. Without the FDA those ads would not exist.

      There is some serious stupidity floating around this comment thread…

      • fred5

        Uh, no. The ads are on TV because there are no FCC regulations governing how the pharmaceutical companies are allowed to advertise their products. (And the pharmaceutical companies have discovered it is far easier to bamboozle a person into asking their doctor for an overpriced medication that may not be right for them than trying to convince a doctor to prescribe it to their patients.)

        The FDA has nothing to do with the ads whatsoever. It’s the FCC that would have to regulate them if they so choose. Your doctor would be expected to inform you of any side effects regardless of whether these ads exist or not.

      • Michael H.

        You couldn’t be more wrong. The FDA is directly involved in the contents of the advertisements. There are two requirements for an ad in the United States. A drug can only be advertised for one specific purpose (you can’t advertise Wellbutrin as a quit smoking drug or Zyban as an anti-depressant). The other requirement is that the ad must contain “fair balance” between the benefits and risks of using the drug. These are FDA regulations that you claim do not exist, either through ignorance or through dishonesty.

  • nrichard

    Why on earth would anyone believe the FDA – they are on the side of the corporations producing the stuff that is killing us and do not want us to know what is going on!

  • Janet

    Great Job, Dr Oz! YOU had the courage to say what is true. If it wasnt, they wouldnt be fighting you so hadr.Everyone knows that China is poisining our children with lead and arsenic but noone wants to face the fact. The FDA is a joke! Dont expect them to be on your side. Think for yourself, PaRENTS and take care of your responsibility, your children!!! Good for you Dr Oz!!!

    • Michael H.

      That is some astonishing logic there. “The FDA is correcting him and pointing out why his study was faulty, so he MUST be right!”

      • Shirley Jaskolski

        the fda is just trying to cover their ass they know what is in that juice but they don’t care what are the loss of a few lives matter to them just follow the money tree they will lose alot of money if people quit drinking the juice. myself I don’t trust the government or the fda they are all crooked.

      • Michael H.

        so where are all these poor people being poisoned by “arsenic laced apple juice”? i’m curious. i’d like to see some peer reviewed studies on this.

        why are we listening to Oz on this anyway? he’s a cardiologist, not a nutritionist.

  • john

    Most apple juice is made from concentrates that come from CHINA instead of FLORIDA in the US.

  • jim

    Most apple juices in America contain juice from several countries including Communist CHINA instead of from places like FLORIDA.

  • Michelle Hope

    I think that Dr. Oz and his show are usually pretty good, but come on….now he wants to tell us we’re poisoning our kids by giving them apple juice….thought apple juice was good for them, My son (14) has been drinking apple juice (diluted with water)since he was a baby and still has 1-2 juice cups (not diluted now)every morning with breakfast. Why would Dr. Oz say this….RATINGS!!!!

  • Dr. Raymond

    I thought at any moment the camera would cut to Besser and he would have his fingers stuck deeply into both ears, while humming so as not to hear Dr. Oz at all.

    Clearly Besser was concerned about Oz making a logical and poignant argument, as he continually interrupted Dr. Oz at practically every step of the way.

    Furthermore, its obvious that Dr. Oz only concern/agenda is to educate the public about where and what is in our food products. To hear that we in the U.S. have higher standards for our apples concerning arsenic, or that organic arsenic may be converted to a toxic variety in the body, seemed to fall on Besser’s deaf ears. This makes me wonder what Besser’s true agenda may be?

    • Michael H.

      Dr. Oz has one goal: higher ratings. That is his sole motivation. The higher the ratings, the higher the salary he can pull in. He’s selling a product, himself. That is all he is doing, and apparently he’ll say anything to accomplish this goal.

  • Oz in a nice guy but a little nutty!

    Oprah says Dr. Oz should be on TV, obviously that should be enough to let him keep his show.. The man comes off like a Crackpot and is definately making more out of everything than what it in reality is. It’s TV Folks, you can’t take it as fact. the best Medical Show on TV is the Doctors on CBS. Over the top at times but more realistic than most other shows.

  • JDLewis

    Am i the only one bothered by the fact that arsenic is present at all??

    • nrichard

      I KNOW! It’s like when you get the information from the local water company talking about the fecal count being within acceptable parameters! THERE SHOULD BE NO ACCEPTABLE PARAMETERS FOR FECAL COUNTS OR ARSENIC

    • David

      ts in water, its in your body, its in nature …. its everywhere.
      Actually, recently researchers discovered that Arsenic has in some species completely replaced Phosphorus in the makeup of DNA which was always known to be comprized of Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Phosphorus.
      Just what matters is in what concentration.

      Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Where_is_arsenic#ixzz1Y3P7eaTg

    • Gerald

      You have consumed, or inhaled arsenic in some amount for your entire life. As stated, arsenic is a naturally occurring element. No matter what you do, it is going to be present. so, to answer your question…yes!

    • Michael H.

      It’s a naturally occurring organic compound. It’s in a lot more things than you think it is and is harmless unless you’re consuming amounts of inorganic arsenic. That’s the issue the FDA has with the test results. The test looked for total arsenic and did not distinguish between organic and inorganic. This is basic high school chemistry and the fact that a practicing physician ignored it in order to fear monger on national television is very disturbing.

    • sheyzma80817

      I surely don’t have any faith in what the FDA says. Look at all the drugs they approve on the market and then they get recalled for causing deaths. The FDA approves what the dollar can provide for them. And how much arsenic is too much? If we consume a little arsenic every day, wouldn’t that eventually affect our health? It may be organic and not harmful in the apple juice, but again…I don’t trust what the FDA says AT ALL.

  • Nick

    A fear mongering show host? No….. really?

  • Tj

    I think Dr Oz point was to look into the possible long term effects of eating apples from China which uses arsenic based pesticides. I was offended by the Besser’s attack. He didn’t seem interested in a discussion. He seemed more interested in getting the media lime light. The minute we stop questioning is the minute we begin to fail and fade

    • Michael H.

      Why would Oz go ahead with a report that he knew was incomplete and inaccurate?


      Oz needs to re-do his tests and look for ONLY inorganic arsenic compounds. Once he drops the junk science I *might* take him seriously. The FDA has been doing this a heck of a lot longer than Oz has.

  • Michael H.

    More evidence that Dr. Oz is a hack that should not be on the air. He promotes junk and pseudo science like homeopathy, energy healing and acupuncture. The fact that he doesn’t understand that arsenic is a naturally occurring substance in many foods is just another nail in his coffin. His show cannot be taken off the air fast enough.

    • nrichard

      Dr. Oz a hack? Really – once again someone spewing information when not knowing what they are talking about….Dr Oz is a renowned Cardiologist working for one of the most prestigious hospitals in the country…..he really doesn’t need “ratings”

      • Michael H.

        I don’t trust any doctor who thinks that homeopathy is a viable medical remedy. Pull up google and search for “James Randi Homeopathy” and watch the video and you’ll see exactly why.

    • jtorres

      Home remedies and non-traditional methods like acupuncture for relief are criticized by doctors because they don’t want to lose patients, i.e. money. Doctors don’t know everything and pills aaren’t always the way to go. My mother has used home remedies all her life and is 80. Yes, there are things you must see a doctor for but open your mind and you may find that you can’t believe everything different is dangerous. And don’t I remember hearing that coffee, vitamins, red meat, salt, sugar, etc. would kill me? Well, I eat it all and at 44, I’m still here and healthy. I’m not lucky, just not all that gullible and do everything in moderation

  • DEE

    What did you really expect the FDA to say? Oh yeah we know but we forgot to inform the public. Come on.D

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