The Food and Drug Administration is setting limits on the amount of arsenic allowed in apple juice, the AP reports.
The decision to halt the sale of any apple juice containing arsenic in levels greater than 10 parts per billion, the same quantity accepted in water, comes after pressure from groups such as Food and Water Watch and Consumers Union, the latter of which suggested a threshold as low as 3 parts per billion.
While the FDA did not go that low, the agency claims that 10 parts per billion was a conservative standard. It is currently unknown what amount of inorganic arsenic, a carcinogenic toxin, is enough to cause cancer, and the FDA says they are erring on the side of caution.
The agency also says that most of juice currently on the market will be unaffected by the new regulation. A 2012 FDA apple juice analysis concluded that 95% of juices contain less than the acceptable threshold to begin with. Previously, the agency placed the limit at 23 parts per billion in 2008.
Arsenic can make its way into the juice through water, soil, and pesticides used during the apple growing process. While drinking a small amount of juice poses no risk whatsoever, the FDA and consumer groups were concerned about the effects of consuming a large amount of juice over a long period of time.
The FDA is also looking into placing new restrictions on the arsenic content in rice, which is more susceptible to contamination as it is grown in groundwater.