ATLANTA — Your children might be washing down the healthy meal you just made with a side of lead.
Scientists said it may be in their juice. They warn over time even small amounts of lead in juice can lead to big developmental issues.
“Orange juice. They want orange juice every morning,” Cobb County mother Kendra Moore said when Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Sophia Choi asked her if her children drank juice.
Choi caught up with Moore as she dropped off her sons, Antonio, 5, Austin, 3, at Bells Ferry Learning Center in Marietta.
“I thought orange juice was healthy with-it being vitamin D and stuff in it. So, it was easy for me to give to them, and they love it,” Moore said.
But along with the good stuff, the Food and Drug Administration found possible lead in all juices including apple and grape juice.
That is concerning for pediatricians like Piedmont Healthcare’s Dr. Samira Brown.
“The thing is that once it gets absorbed it has a half-life 25-years and stores in the blood and bones,” Brown said. “Even chronic low exposures can be very you know impactful specifically to their IQ.”
Knowing the serious dangers from lead exposure to young, developing minds, Sharon Foster the owner of Bells Ferry Learning Center had the Marietta location and her two other metro Atlanta daycares tested for it — even the toys.
It never dawned on her to check the juice.
“I had no idea. I’m embarrassed to say because that is my job to keep children safe. And so I’m glad I know now,” Foster said.
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She’s also glad to know the FDA is taking action by recommending lead limits of 10 parts per billion in apple juice and 20 parts per billion in other juices.
Right now, it’s OK to have 50 parts per billion.
The FDA said the new limits would lower lead exposure from apple juice by 46% and 19% from all other juices.
Scientists believe most of the lead is getting into the juice through processing possibly from the machines used.
“It’s not something that I want to see in my kids’ drinks or food,” Cobb County mother Lindsay Stippich said.
She takes snack time seriously for 8-year-old Sam and 5-year-old Emma. Juice is no longer on the menu.
“Especially seeing there are so many kids that have different developmental delays or different things like that going on. You do wonder is it because of the stuff that they’re putting in our drinks, and in our food,” Stippich said.
The Juice Products Association emailed us the following statement:
“Juice Products Association members are committed to providing safe, quality and nutritious juices and complies with all federal regulations for food safety. Anyone drinking 100% juice, including parents and children can rest assured that they are getting the best and safest product possible.
“It is also worth noting that JPA has evaluated the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ‘Draft Guidance for Industry: Action Levels for Lead in Juice’ and submitted substantive science-based comments to the Agency.”
Lead exposure symptoms may not show up right away and when they do, they can vary from stomach pains and headaches to hair loss and seizures.
But doctors said the real damage happens over time to the brain with developmental issues.
That is why Antonio and Austin Moore can beg all they want, it’s no more juice for them.
“Definitely no more orange juice and apple juice for right now,” Moore said.
If you are going to give children juice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends none for kids under 12-months and only four ounces a day for everyone else.
These new lead limits are just guidelines, and the FDA is still taking comments on them.
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