Doctor Mehmet Oz started a firestorm last week alarming many parents when he announced on his show testing of some of the top name brands of apple juice contained arsenic, more than allowed in water by several parts per million. Viewers, audience members and a section of America were thrown into a panic that the apple juice they give to their children could be, in essence, poisoning them. Then started the feuding ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser calling Dr. Oz irresponsible for what he had done, equating it to yelling “fire!” in a movie theater, saying that Arsenic is in water, soil and food. Further the FDA countered showing its findings of significantly lower levels than Oz claims in those same brands, additionally pointing out the difference between inorganic and organic Arsenic, a naturally occurring chemical, something the Dr. Oz show purportedly failed to mention. The FDA went on to say that the reason for higher levels allowed in juice vs. water stems from the fact chemicals found in water tend to be inorganic where the chemical found in juice tends to be organic; the latter passing through the body quickly, causing no harm and deemed safe, something Oz does not agree with. However here is where the conflicting information begins; aside from the feuding doctors, ABC news divulged different answers. According to their findings, the FDA stated the higher level allowed in juice vs. water is because people drink less juice and more water; explanations for the higher levels to begin with presented by ABC news were centered around the fact that much of the apples used for juice, the concentrates are imported from China where Arsenic is still permitted in pesticides. To be fair and clear Dr. Oz did not advise parents to stop giving their kids apple juice only to pay attention to what they were giving their kids and to be aware that too much exposure could be harmful.
Maybe it’s just a lay person’s view, but most would imagine the average American response as follows: why the hell is arsenic allowed in any food or drink we consume? Again most would assume that’s what we have water decontamination and filtration for, why we have an FDA, to ensure harmful things do not make it into our food, and wouldn’t its presence in soil and air point to contamination and a need for better environmental protections, regulations? In fact that was one of the questions Dr. Oz vehemently and loudly asked on his show; why, in the United States of America, was he talking about Arsenic in apple juice? And if the public believes Dr. Besser, what foods are we consuming that contain arsenic; plus add what we’re getting from soil and air to what’s in water, juice and how much are we really getting, as opposed to what official research says we are getting, especially when the levels of arsenic found in some of doctor Oz’s samples were over twice as high, at 23 parts per billion, as the amount allowed in water, 10 parts per billion. To say nothing of, you’re dealing with children who have been known time and time again to be more susceptible to toxins and other irritants than adults; a long term study concluded in the last couple of years just strongly linked increased pesticide exposure and cases of ADHD. Warnings have gone out to the public naming which produce is most preside absorbent, ways to minimize that exposure. This is arsenic, a known poison; how much more damage could prolonged and combined ingestion do? Considering the economy there is a major pushback against foreign made products; however, we never should have been importing food of any kind from countries that still grow, raise or prepare said foods with previously US banned substances, unsafe levels of substances period, do not stop, do not pass go do not collect $200.
Then there is the dubiousness of the FDA itself constantly pulling drugs off the market after too quick approvals in the first place, leaving drugs on the market too long known to have caused death or significantly life altering side effects, allowing huge drug makers to still operate after so called voluntary recalls of over the counter products with foul odors, bottles with black, unidentified pieces. Regular news watchers can’t go a month without hearing about the latest recall of salmonella or e-coli tainted foods that carry no hint of meat products including vegetables, black pepper and peanut butter to name the latest, listeria tainted cantaloupe; how about the salmonella tainted eggs linked to a huge corporate egg farm with more violations than a mathematician could calculate spanning decades; it took people getting sick and dying for the family that owned the operation to land in court. Compounding things is the government bureaucracy revealing close to a dozen government agencies supposedly protecting our food, but not really working together, the FDA itself who was begging Washington for the funds and workers to manage what it was mandated to along with sounding the alarm it was woefully understaffed; that was at the time of the egg farm incident at least 6 months to a year ago. So who are you, an individual or the American people as a whole going to trust, a doctor with years and years of experience, a doctor on the cutting edge, a doctor writing books and on TV not to make money, not to gain fame but to educate the public, or an agency that is not going to publically admit to a mistake unless forced to, not to mention regardless of FDA regulations and monitoring it doesn’t mean companies won’t try to put one over on people or the arsenic got there because of poor quality control.
Next duality of answers does not inspire believability or consumer confidence; if the discrepancy in the levels of arsenic did have to do with inorganic vs. organic why when ABC news investigated was it told it had to do with how much of each people drink? If that was all there is to it why were the imports from China notated as a possible source of the problem; forgoing the little hiccup of, if it’s true, it could become a problem whether or not it has anything to do with the high levels of arsenic in apple juice tested by the Dr. Oz show. Yet no one is calling ABC news irresponsible, accusing them of fear mongering, panicking the public; the public does have a right to know what their food contains, especially when it comes to what they give to their kids sometimes on a daily basis. Continuing, such answers are bound to make people wonder if organic arsenic is a reality or a public relations ploy similar to clean coal campaigns, commercials touting the wonders of natural gas leaving out the explosions rocking neighborhoods, destroying homes, hydrofracking leaving methane laden water people can set ablaze or even linked to seismic activity. Dr. Richard Besser said he did not understand the singling out of this one product, apple juice, but parents certainly did; apple juice is practically a staple in any house with children garnering an even higher usage, consumption rate in households containing little ones 12 months to 5 years old; also apple juice is viewed, marketed as a kid friendly product. If it is no longer kid friendly parents, childcare providers and the public need to know. We don’t know yet what that much arsenic exposure could be linked to. We already recognize how critical the years birth to age 5 are, already comprehend the devastating effects of high exposure to lead and other toxins; why would we put more chemicals into bodies so young?
Of course Dr. Oz did the right thing, the same Dr. Oz who came up with his one sheet questionnaire woman could answer and give to their doctor to adequately be screened for ovarian cancer, owing to doctors still being trained this form of cancer has no symptoms, when it actually does, the same Dr. Oz who has held shows on miracle foods, how to take your medications, how to avoid over the counter accidental overdose, doing what he has always done alerting the public hoping to change the standard. He said it himself there should not be more arsenic allowed in our apple juice than there is in our drinking water; truth. And the fact that the government has allowed it, says a whole host of things. Something else he made perfectly clear- he has no immediate concerns about apple juice; his call to action is focused on the effects to the next generation, what will happen over the growing generation with this much needless exposure to a chemical? No he was not trying to demonize apple juice; an educated guess would come to the logical conclusion he started with a product in almost every home, an issue that could effect millions of the most vulnerable people, children. He should not be demonized, called names for using his vast influence to bring attention to something he is far from the first to point out; in fact a university of Arizona study found 1 of 5 samples containing nearly triple the amount allowed in drinking water, just to name one study testing and asking questions over the last 2-3 years. This is also important when looking at how long it takes for the FDA, any government agency to ban things deemed harmful to public health compared to nations in Europe who have already banned the potentially harmful BPA from common plastics used specifically for children like baby bottles, while America has just conclusively uncovered a link between certain food dyes and behavior problems in some kids, Europe has already banned those dyes from their food supplies. Many westernized countries refuse to buy American meats not due to fear of diseases like mad cow, but because if the high level of metals and antibiotics present. Taking into account instances like these should give one pause when accusing someone of fear mongering.
The question should not be about Dr. Oz’s judgment, his scruples or how he structures his show, what content he chose to present in this case; the question we all have to think about is what if he’s right, not what if he’s wrong. Another big question mark why the variation in samples; only 10 of the 3 dozen he tested came out higher than the allotment permitted in drinking water. And if there are brands with lower levels of arsenic, lower perhaps than in drinking water; could there be apple juice currently being made and sold without arsenic? Consider for a moment there is, wouldn’t that be better for the nations kids; wouldn’t it be better to stop a problem before it starts, never mind who gave the government information stating any arsenic should be allowed in consumable products in the first place? Absolutely he should warn parents and the public having seen not one but 3 studies in as many years sounding off on this possible problem. Absolutely he should speak up and be ahead of the already dysfunctional FDA, and no, doctors don’t always have to agree, putting opposing opinions out there allows people to see each side making the right choice for them. Way to go Dr. Oz.