Plus, which fruit juices are safe to give your kids.
A recent report put together by the team of retail experts at Consumer Reports found that many popular kids' fruit juices contain alarming amounts of heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, and lead. As described in the report, consuming these juices over long periods of time, or in large amounts, could not only be dangerous for both children and adults.
Consumer Reports collected samples of more than 45 juices sold in stores across the U.S., including multiple varieties such as grape, pear, apple, and fruit blends. They found that more than half of their samples had elevated levels of heavy metals. The samples included popular products such as Juicy Juice, Honest Kids, Minute Maid, Welch's, and Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value.
According to the report, these metals are found naturally in many foods and beverages and heavy metal levels in fruit juices have gone down since earlier tests in 2011. But the elevated levels found in this test are still concerning to medical professionals. James Dickerson, the chief scientific officer for Consumer Reports, said that regularly consuming even small amounts of these drinks could pose a serious health risk.
"In some cases, drinking just 4 ounces a day—or half a cup—is enough to raise concern," he said.
Jennifer Lowry, M.D., chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council, weighed in on Consumer Reports' lengthy report. She said nearly 75 percent of children enjoy at least one serving of juice per day, which is enough for these metallic elements to have an impact on development. It also is enough to be concerning for adults who drink juice, too.
“Heavy metals are things that can cause a variety of ailments in children and adults—everything from neurological issues to cancer," Dickerson said. "We certainly want to ensure that the industry continues to do a better job to reduce the presence of these in the products that we buy."
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The report found seven of the juices tested could harm children who drink just half a cup or more each day, whereas nine products could pose risks to those who drink a cup or more each day. Juice boxes were also included in these results—grape juice and juice blends had the highest concentration of heavy metals out of all of the products. Interestingly enough, organic juices did not perform any better on these tests than non-organic options.
The CR report delves into how juice brands within the beverage industry could have the ability to reduce exposure to heavy metals by changing how they source fruit, as well as how they process and package drinks. But there is also guidance on which fruit juices were best among those that were tested, and CR shared their top picks in each category that we're highlighting below.
These Are the Safest Juices to Buy Now, According to Consumer Reports:
1) 365 Everyday Value Organic 100% Apple Juice
This product only contains one ingredient—pasteurized, unfiltered apple juice.
2) Apple & Eve 100% Apple Juice
There are no added sugars in this apple juice blend, which is available at multiple retailers.
3) Goya Pear Nectar
Goya's bottled product was presented as one of CR's top picks for alternative fruit juices.
4) Ocean Spray Cran-Apple and Ocean Spray Cran-Grape
Ocean Spray produces these two juice blends that provide a full day's worth of vitamin C in one serving.
5) Capri Sun 100% Apple Juice Boxes
Cooking Light reviewed Capri Sun's newest product line when it was released, and our nutritionist found that some of these may have high amounts of (naturally occuring) sugar—but this earned Consumer Reports' top scores for a mixed juice pack for kids.
6) Juicy Juice 100% Organic Apple Juice
A full 64-ounce bottle will run you around $3, but this apple juice variety doesn't contain any added sugar.
7) Honest Kids Organic Juice Drink, Goodness Grapeness
Grape juices were one of Consumer Reports' biggest sources of concern, but this organic variety earned top marks—it'savailable in both kid-sized pouches and 59-ounce bottles.
8) Minute Maid 100% Juice, Apple White Grape
A mix between apple and grape juices,this product is one of Minute Maid's best per CR's test results.
For more information, and to see the full list of potentially harmful juices, check out the full report here.