Your fruit juice may contain arsenic, lead & other heavy metals

47% of 45 juices tested had concerning levels of cadmium, arsenic

Consumer Reports tested 45 popular fruit juices sold across the country -- including apple, grape, pear, and fruit blends -- and found concerning levels of heavy metals in nearly half of them, including juices marketed to children, who are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of heavy metals.

Persistent exposure to these heavy elements, particularly early in a child's development, can have longstanding effects throughout their life; respiratory systems, their neurological systems; their immune systems are all developing, so having those exposures at those ages can have very profound effects.

Juices Consumer Reports found with highest potential risk

4 ounces per day:

  • Trader Joe's Fresh Pressed Apple Juice
  • 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods) Organic 100% Concord Grape Juice
  • R.W. Knudsen Organic Just Concord Grape Juice
  • Welch's 100% Grape Juice, Concord Grape
  • Welch's 100% Grape Juice, White Grape
  • Great Value (Walmart) 100% Cranberry Grape Juice
  • Welch's 100% Juice with Antioxidant Superberry

One juice box/pouch per day:

  • Trader Joe's Joe's Kids Apple Juice
  • Minute Maid 100% Apple Juice
  • Juicy Juice 100% Juice, Fruit Punch
  • Minute Maid 100% Juice, Fruit Punch
  • Mott's 100% Juice, Apple White Grape

 “In some cases, drinking just 4 ounces a day -- or half a cup -- is enough to raise concern,” said James Dickerson, CR’s chief scientific officer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended limiting amounts of juice, mainly because it contains lots of sugar, but American children still drink a lot of juice. In a recent survey of parents with young children, Consumer Reports found that more than 80 percent give their kids juice, potentially exposing them to heavy metals.

Testing performed by Consumer Reports found seven juices that contain enough heavy metals to potentially harm children who drink four ounces or more per day. An additional nine juices pose risks to kids at eight ounces or more per day. Lastly, Consumer Reports found five juice boxes that posed a risk to children if they drank more than one per day.

WATCH: Pediatrician Ravi Raheja's concerns about fruit juices containing arsenic |
Better juice options for your children

Summary of Consumer Reports' findings

  • 47% of the 45 juices had concerning levels of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, and/or lead. (None contained concerning levels of mercury.)
  • 7 of those 21 juices could harm children who drink 4 ounces (½ cup) or more a day; 9 of them pose risks to kids at 8 ounces (1 cup) or more a day.
  • 5 of the products with elevated levels are juice boxes or pouches ranging from 4 to 6.75 ounces. These pose a risk to a child who drinks more than one box or pouch per day.
  • 10 of the juices pose a risk to adults: five of them at 4 ounces or more a day, and five at 8 ounces or more a day.
  • Grape juice and juice blends had the highest average heavy metal levels.
  • Juice brands marketed for children did not fare better or worse than other juices.
  • Organic juices did not have lower levels of heavy metals than conventional ones.

A search Wednesday of several stores including Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Publix and Winn-Dixie found they carried multiple kinds of the juices identified by Consumer Reports. That came as a surprise to Nikki Holm, a mother of four who spoke with News4Jax as she was heading into Trader Joe's.

"I prefer water, but we do buy the Honest brand and I've started to let them take it for lunch," said Holm, whose children all are under the age of 11. " ... My kids have had an occasional Mott's or Minute Maid, but we're going to have a conversation."

At this point you may be asking, how did these dangerous compounds get into our juice? Heavy metals are naturally found in the environment, but much of the heavy metals in food come from soil or water that's been contaminated through pollution, mining or pesticides. So what can you do?

There are a lot of foods out there that have traces of these heavy elements in there. That's why it's really important to make sure that you feed your children a broad variety of fruits, vegetables and other whole foods to ensure that you minimize their exposure.

Of the juice companies that responded to Consumer Reports' requests for comment, most said they did their own testing and followed all government regulations. Some also noted that heavy metals can be naturally occurring. To view a complete list of the testing procedures and results, visit Consumer Reports.

About the Authors: