MANHATTAN — Sen. Charles Schumer called Sunday for standards aimed at limiting the amount of toxic substances in fruit juice concentrates, many of which are imported.
There is concern, the senator said, because many of those concentrates come from China, which has a notorious safety record and uses inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen, in its pesticides.
According to Schumer, 70 percent of America's apple juice concentrate and 60 percent of its pear juice or pear juice concentrate come from China. China is also a top five exporter to the United States of other juices.
In 2008, the FDA found elevated levels of the toxin in pear juice concentrate from China and issued an import alert.
While inorganic arsenic standards for bottled water have existed for some time — 10 parts per billion is considered dangerous — there are currently no such standards for fruit juice.
In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Schumer urged the imposition of standards for food and beverages as well as increased inspections.
"Given continuing horror stories of toxic food additives and chemicals in the Chinese food supply, I am concerned that the juice and juice concentrate China exports to the United States may put children at risk of exposure to cancer-causing contaminants such as arsenic," Schumer wrote.
Still, the senator said that there was no need for alarm.
"While there is no cause for alarm and no need to stop drinking juice, a good option for juice makers and families who have concerns is to buy juice made from New York produced apples, which, like apples throughout the United States, do not use pesticides with inorganic arsenic in them," he said.