Toxic heavy metals in fruit juices: the facts
According to an extensive Consumer Reports survey, abnormally high levels of toxic heavy metals in fruit juices have been observed. Toxic metals such as cadmium and lead were found in 21 of the 45 commercial juices tested by the survey.
Nevertheless, these rates are decreasing when compared with those observed during a large study that took place in 2011. At the time 71% of juices tested showed worrying rates while today it is 47%.
The origin of the problem that nobody is talking about
This problem is not from yesterday. Already in 2005, as I was writing the Rejuvenating Food Guide, my first book on nutrition, I had read several concerns about Florida’s high levels of heavy metals from citrus crops, which were routinely fattened with sewage sludge and incinerated industrial waste used as fertilizers.
Sewage sludge is the solids from water treatment plants. They contain a mixture of human waste residues and household products. The link between this toxic cocktail and the contamination of food is still poorly understood byscience. Fortunately, people like me can testify from their experience of having experienced the harms that this has had on their health. In my case, every time I had the misfortune to consume food that had been produced in soils containing sewage sludge and industrial ashes, I immensely harmed my ability to get back my health. It should be noted that this problem also contaminates some organic products, so it is difficult to avoid it altogether.
According to foodsafetynews.com, sewage sludge regularly contains high levels of heavy metals (see here). The problem of heavy metals is even worse in industrial ashes, another common addition in American farmland.
According to the data I obtained in 2007, at least 20% of American farmland had already received sewage sludge. This figure has probably increased since then. Information on this subject is difficult to access. For something supposedly safe, a lot of things remain secret about it, namely what products grow in soils that have recently received sewage sludge. The use of sewage sludge and industrial wastes in citrus crops was very popular around the early 2000s and explains the presence of heavy metals in fruit juices containing citrus fruits.
It is for this reason that the 2011 study observed higher levels of heavy metals in 71% of fruit juice samples. This percentage has since declined as a result of the industry’s reaction. Indeed, several producers have stopped adding sewage sludge following the release of alarming data from the 2011 study.
How to avoid the problem?
In general, all US food products are of a lower quality than the equivalent from elsewhere. To avoid the problem of contamination of fruit juices, it is often enough to buy whole fruits because in most cases the second quality products are used to make the juices. In products sold whole and fresh, the quality is generally superior.
Another important recommendation is to consume citrus fruit from South Africa, a country whose products are normally available in Quebec during the winter. These products have proven to be of high quality when compared to their American counterpart.
Fruit juices that do not contain traces of citrus will be less contaminated, since the problem of sewage sludge is mainly associated with Florida citrus fruits. Of course, since orange juice is the main ingredient of a majority of fruit juices, it can be difficult to find juice blends without orange juice.
The industrialization of agriculture and the large amount of pollution generated by households have given rise to a waste recycling industry that is sewage sludge. Science is totally ignorant about the consequences of sewage sludge on human health and few serious studies are done on the subject.
A growing proportion of farmland has been receiving products that can denature the soil and contaminate the products growing in that soil. Sewage sludge is just one of the examples of products that are attractive to agricultural productivity for growers to increase their production efficiency regardless of the quality and health benefits of the food they produce. Other problems include pig manure, pig blood, industrial waste and the use of fluoridated or chlorinated water.
The consumer who does not inquire and who buys without knowing the agricultural reality behind the production of the products he consumes is therefore exposed to various threats. Heavy metals in fruit juices are just the tip of the iceberg in this area.
The best way to prevent these problems is through the information of the people. Please share this article with your loved ones to inform people about the agricultural reality and the dangers of sewage sludge.
See the original article from consumer reports here.