Just when you start to think you’re reasonably safe from major contaminants, you get blindsided by another story letting you know that you can never get too comfortable. In this case, it’s that once-harmless children’s treat – apple juice – that is suddenly showing up with lead.
The story, as reported by NPR and which came to us by way of A Child Grows, has to do with an Environmental Law Foundation study of the lead content in apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears and peaches, and fruit cocktail available at stores in California. The group found that in many cases the amount of lead in a single serving exceeded federal and state limits for young children. And meanwhile, we’re horrified because on the list we see just about every brand name we know: Beech Nut, Earth’s Best, Gerber, Hansen, Langer’s, Minute Maid, Motts, O Organics, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, and Tree Top, just to name a few.
Could the lead be coming in through the processing, or as part of the packaging? One perplexing issue is that within the same brand or manufacturer, some had unacceptable amounts of lead and some didn’t. So for instance, Trader Joe’s Fresh Pressed Apple Juice was fine, but Trader Joe’s Certified Organic Apple Juice wasn’t. Go figure.
We don’t know what will happen next with these findings, and we’re starting to think we’re going to need to go to the market with a five- or six-page printout of what’s safe and what isn’t. But before it comes to that, it’s worth trying to shop (and live) by a few simple rules:
- Buy fresh
- Get to know your grower/producer/market manager
- Avoid foods with excessive processing and packaging
- Make your own if you can (really – like fruit cocktail? Just chop up some fruit and put it in a cup)
Let’s hope that all of these issues get resolved quickly, for our sake and our kids’ sake. Because everyone deserves to eat well and stay healthy.