The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a draft guidance document entitled Arsenic in Apple Juice: Action Level in which it announces an action level of 10 ppb for inorganic arsenic in apple juice. This action level is consistent with the 10 ppb limit for arsenic set by the Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water. The FDA will consider the inorganic arsenic action level, among other things, when considering whether to bring enforcement action in any particular matter.

Historically, total levels of arsenic in apple juice have been below 10 ppb. However, the FDA has identified samples with higher levels in recent years. Possible sources of inorganic arsenic include the following:

  • Processing aids
  • Prior use of arsenic-based pesticides on land currently used for apple orchards
  • Current use of arsenic-based pesticides in other countries
  • Naturally high levels of arsenic in soil or water
  • Atmospheric deposition from industrial activities
  • Water used by manufacturers to dilute concentrate to prepare ready-to-drink juice

The FDA will analyze samples of apple juice found to contain more than 10 ppb of total arsenic in order to determine the level of inorganic arsenic. If more than 10 ppb of inorganic arsenic are found, such finding will be a factor in the FDA’s decision to bring enforcement action.