FDA must consider public’s well-being

Megan Hurley

Back in September, fear of the arsenic levels in apple juice was all over the news. The well-known Dr. Mehmet Oz claimed studies were proving that dangerous levels of arsenic were present in apple juice, but critics disagreed, decrying it as a scare tactic manufactured by Oz to get attention. On “Good Morning America,” Dr. Richard Besser said Oz was “manufacturing a health crisis based on faulty, incomplete data.”

However, now the question of arsenic in apple juice has become less of a question and more of an investigation. A recent Consumer Reports study discovered that “a full 10 percent of the juices tested … had arsenic levels higher than what is allowed in water by the Food and Drug Administration.” Everyone should be concerned about what they are drinking.

The government has rigorous standards when it comes to water, but what about juice? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website, the FDA has not “set a standard for arsenic in fruit juice.”

Seriously? It is understandable that the government has a lot on its plate right now, but it needs to think about what it is feeding Americans, or rather, allowing them to pour down their throats. According to Consumer Reports, following the release of the study, the FDA “posted eight previously undisclosed test results for apple juice samples … containing total arsenic levels greater than 23 (parts per billion).” The rest of the set of data had been released earlier, only giving the comforting information of lower levels of arsenic.

When the FDA was questioned on why the test results showing high levels of arsenic in juice took so long to get posted, the FDA responded by saying that these results had to get through “the process of being further verified.” Of course the FDA needed to take its time, but why did it settle for incomplete data? If it’s true that the FDA needed to further verify data, why could they not just wait and get all of the results before telling the American public everything was fine?

Ultimately, this is an eye-opening example of the lack of transparency in the government. There are understable complexities within such a behemoth of a bureaucracy, but food and beverage safety should not be included. People should know that what they eat and drink is safe.

There needs to be accountability when it comes to federal agencies. Otherwise, the American people are going to pay for the mistakes of bureaucrats. We need to remind the government that it is made up of actual humans too. Americans are worried about many things when it comes to the government, but they need to remember that the federal agencies will only act irresponsibly if they can get away with that behavior.

— Megan Hurley is a journalism sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.