Popular TV medical expert Dr. Mehmet Oz has caused a nationwide food fight over the levels of arsenic in apple juice. On his program, the doctor contends that apple juice, which parents frequently give to their children, contains dangerously high levels of arsenic. The FDA, however, fired back with a statement that "there is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices." The doctor, according to the FDA, failed to distinguish between organic arsenic, a relatively harmless compound that occurs in many foods, and inorganic arsenic that is found in pesticides. Should parents be worried about apple juice, or is Dr. Oz just worried about his ratings?
Dr. Oz is merely stoking anxiety: Dr. Oz's statements are "extremely irresponsible," says Dr. Richard Besser at ABC News. Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance that's found everywhere. "It's in the air we breathe, it's in the soil we walk on, it's in the water we drink." Calling apple juice "demon food" simply "plays to the heartstrings" of parents.
"Apple juice showdown: Dr. Oz arsenic claim questioned by Dr. Besser"
But Dr. Oz may be right: Parents can't just take the FDA's word and dismiss Dr. Oz's warning, says Danielle Sullivan at Babble. The FDA shrugs off a lot of things many of us "do not feel are good for our kids" — trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, salt, meat injected with hormones and antibiotics. Maybe Oz did use apple juice to boost ratings, but "the truth of what is actually in our foods, I'm sure, is much ... scarier."
"Why Dr. Oz may be right about apple juice"
Regardless, it is an important debate: "The back-and-forth may matter less for its details and more in the larger questions at play,” says Janice D’Arcy at The Washington Post. "How much can we trust the imported food we give to our children? How much can we trust our own government's regulation? How much credence should we give to self-appointed whistle-blowers in the media?"
"Dr. Oz and FDA dispute the safety of apple juice"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- 5 tricks to making a mind-blowing burger
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
- WATCH: Australia's army chief demonstrates how you address sex abuse
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
Subscribe to the Week