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Schumer urges stricter tests for juice

Democratic New York Sen. Charles Schumer is weighing in on the debate about the level of arsenic possibly found in apple juice.

Dr. Mehmet Oz kicked off a controversy last week when his syndicated television show claimed an independent lab found elevated levels of arsenic in numerous American-sold apple juices. Despite the juice being produced in the United States, it's estimated about 70 percent of apple juice concentrate is shipped from China.

But the "Dr. Oz" show has been denounced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other medical experts, saying the FDA did its own tests of the juice and found the statistics erroneous, not to mention that Oz did not break down the findings into organic and inorganic arsenic. Organic arsenic has been found to be safe when consumed. Inorganic arsenic is found in pesticides.

While Schumer acknowledged in a news release Sunday that "serious questions exist over the methodology used by a daytime talk show," he still urged the FDA to have more rigid standards about arsenic levels in apple juice.

"In a letter to FDA Administrator Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Schumer called for the FDA to put in place new standards for toxic, inorganic arsenic in fruit juice concentrates. Schumer also called on [the] FDA to increase inspections, testing and analysis of juice concentrates imported from countries such as China that permit the use of toxic, inorganic arsenic in their pesticides, to determine whether elevated levels exist in the U.S. food supply," the statement reads.

The FDA released its own statement shortly after the "Dr. Oz" show aired. It said there is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking juice, and the FDA annually tests apple juice samples for the presence of arsenic. Also, importers must prove their fruit juices and concentrates are safe for consumption before they're allowed to enter the U.S.

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