October 6, 2022

FDA Takes Steps to Limit Lead Content in Juice

The FDA is taking steps to limit lead content in juice to reduce the potential exposure to toxic elements in foods. The draft action levels are for lead in single-strength (ready to drink) apple juice and other single-strength juices and juice blends. This action is in support of the agency’s Closer to Zero action plan.

FDA Takes Steps to Limit Lead Content in Juice

FDA Commissioner Robert M Califf, M.D. said in a statement “Exposure of our most vulnerable populations, especially children, to elevated levels of toxic elements from foods is unacceptable. This action to limit lead in juice represents an important step forward in advancing FDA’s Closer to Zero action plan, which we are confident will have a lasting public health impact on current and future generations.”

The guidance outlines action levels that will be progressively lowered “as appropriate,” according to the press release. The draft action level is for 10 parts per billion (ppb) for lead in single-strength apple juice, and 20 parts per billion for lead in all other single-strength juice types.

This action to reduce the lead content in juice was guided by the FDA’s interim reference level for lead, which is a measure of the contribution of lead in food to blood lead levels. The agency estimates that establishing a 10 ppb action level could lead to as much as a 46% reduction in exposure to lead from apple juice in children. The action level of 20 ppb is estimated to reduce lead exposure levels by 19%.

Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said in a statement, “As we outlined in the Closer to Zero action plan, the agency is increasing targeted compliance activities as part of our efforts to monitor levels of these elements in foods through the FDA’s Total Diet Study, Toxic Elements in Food and Foodware program and sampling assignments. In addition, our work in this important area of food safety will progress with advancements in science. For example, action levels may be progressively lowered over time, as appropriate, to make continual improvements in reducing the levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury in foods eaten by babies and young children.”

The FDA is accepting comments on the draft guidance. A manufacturer can implement the recommendations before the guidance becomes final.

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