Beware the Juice

Soda, it’s pretty well agreed, isn’t good for kids, especially the younger ones.  It rots teeth and, generally, contains caffeine, not to mention being a huge source of empty calories.  Milk, well, it does a body good, but it too can be fattening — something, sadly, I know from personal experience.  Of course, no one would recommend coffee for kids and, in the US at least, beer, wine, and other “adult” beverages are right out.  So what’s left, if your kids want something other than water?  Juice is one option — except that even that has problems now.

According to the Environmental Law Foundation, a frightening number of children’s fruit-based products, including juice boxes, contain dangerously high levels of lead — and before you assume that buying organic means you’re safe, be aware that there are quite a few “organic” products on the list as well.  In all, 125 out of 146 products tested were found to have enough lead content that the law requires them to have a cancer warning printed on the package.

The problem is not limited to juice; packaged fruit, including a couple types of baby food, were also tested and came up positive for lead content.  Toxicologist Barbara G. Callahan, PhD, DABT, of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, noted that “lead exposure among children is a particular concern because their developing bodies absorb lead at a higher rate and because children are particularly sensitive to lead’s toxic effects, including decreased I.Q.” and called the study results “alarming.”  While the list of products is not all-encompassing, the results are significant enough that if the presence of lead in other products is even half as common as found in this study, we should definitely be concerned.

The ELF has notified the companies involved and will, I’m sure, follow up.  In the meantime, perhaps the best solution is to stick to water (assuming you don’t have lead pipes) or to make your own juice from fresh fruit.  Our kids don’t drink a whole lot of juice anyway; they’re big on milk and water (we use and really like this PUR Water Dispenser in the fridge for clean, cold, lead-free water).  Still, I think we’ll keep a careful eye on what they get at parties and picnics from now on.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply