The Food and Drug Administration has detected toxic levels of inorganic arsenic in samples of apple juice managed by a Valley Processing’s facility in Yakima County. The company has also been accused of storing apples in outdoor containers for months.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that inorganic arsenic is a highly toxic substance. It has been linked with cancer, skin lesions, cardiovascular disease and diabetes when consumed in the long-term.
Even when arsenic is a natural Earth’s compound, it can be deadly in its organic form. The chemical is spread around the planet, although it is mostly found in water and air. The test conducted by the federal agency found levels that exceed the limits more than nine times.
“It’s the responsibility of the packer to be responsible for the juice and make sure they know where they’re properly getting safe raw materials. They should test the incoming apples from various suppliers and try to nail down who is giving them higher arsenic levels,” the FDA was quoted as saying by the Seattle Times.
FDA: Valley Processing is storing apples in outdoor wooden bins
The company was criticized for ignoring atmospheric conditions affecting fruits stored outside. Apples can develop molds when they are not properly cared. These fungi can produce a toxin called patulin.
The FDA said that producers should consider temperature controls and atmospheric elements when storing fruits in outdoor sites. Some apples in the Valley Processing’s facility have been stored for more than two months, in wooden bins.
Experts said that apples should be housed indoors, to prevent the development of unwanted organisms and substances. The FDA has been conducting safety tests throughout the United States, to prevent companies from selling toxic products.
Luke LaBorde, a food safety specialist at Penn State University, told the Seattle Times that toxic levels of arsenic may come from non-fresh apples, harvested long ago. He added that kids can be most affected by the chemical substance that adults.
Unsafe levels of inorganic arsenic have been linked to the use of pesticides, explained LaBorde. The substance can stay in the soil for years. Valley Processing would be able to find the root of the problem by analyzing apples coming from different orchards.
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What is Valley Processing doing to avoid toxins such as patulin?
FDA officials found that Valley Processing has been blending batches of apple juice, to dilute patulin discovered in the fruits. The federal agency said that diluting the toxin is not the best alternative to eliminate the virus and the danger it produces.
Health regulators in the United States have updated the arsenic limit permitted for several foods and drinks. The FDA said in 2013 that apple juice should contain the same arsenic levels as water. At the same time, the presence of the substance in rice cereal for kids should be lowered.
Valley Processing describes itself as one of the largest juice manufacturers in the country. The FDA said the company should take new security measures in the coming 15 business days, said the Seattle Times.
Source: The Seattle Times