Consumer Reports Finds Heavy Metals in Fruit Juices Sold in U.S.

Posted on Behalf of  Sarah Brown

Posted on behalf of Sarah Brown.

In January 2019, Consumer Reports published a study that measured heavy metals (including total arsenic, inorganic arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury) in 45 fruit juice products sold in the U.S. Exposures to heavy metals have been associated with lowered IQ, behavior issues, diabetes, and cancer. Further, children, who consume “a lot” of fruit juices are sensitive to the potential detrimental effects of these metals (Consumer Reports, 2019).

According to the report, measurable levels of at least one heavy metal were detected in each juice product (included apple, grape, pear, and blended fruit juices), although, no concentrations were provided in the study results. Grape juice and fruit juice blends reportedly contained the highest average concentrations of heavy metals. Twenty-one, or 47%, of the 45 juice products reportedly had “concerning levels” of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, and/or lead. The authors, however, did not state what level of each metal constituted a “concerning” level. According to the report, approximately 15% of these juices reportedly had heavy metal levels that pose health risks to children who consume 4 oz. or 1/2 a cup or more of the juice per day. Approximately 11% of the juice products were found to pose health risks in adults who consume four or more oz. of juice per day. Whether these results were based on an analysis of non-carcinogenic or carcinogenic risk was not clear (Consumer Reports Testing Methodologies, 2019). Consumer Reports concluded that children under one year old should not consume fruit juice at all, children one to three years old should consume no more than 4 oz. of fruit juice per day, children four to six years old should not consume more than 6 oz. of fruit juice per day, children seven to 18 years old should consume no more than 8 oz. of fruit juice per day, and adults should consume fruit juice “in moderation.”

Cardno ChemRisk published a similar analysis in 2014. This risk assessment investigated concentrations of aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, and zinc in nine apple juice products, and assessed the potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic human health risks associated with apple juice consumption (Tvermoes et al. 2014). Similar to the findings described in Consumer Reports, we found that metals were detectable in all of the products. Cardno ChemRisk, however, presented all the metal measurements considered in our analysis, as well as the assumptions used to estimate daily metal intake for different age groups and, the health-based benchmarks that were used to evaluate health risk. Specifically, we found that daily metal intake from apple juice consumption is not likely to cause noncarcinogenic or carcinogenic health effects in children or adults. For example, for inorganic arsenic, the estimated lifetime cancer risks for children and adults were less than those associated with the FDA’s inorganic arsenic maximum contaminant level for bottled water.


Cardno ChemRisk scientists have extensive professional experience evaluating the possible hazards posed by chemicals in consumer products and foods. Our team has a number of specialists who have the ability to accurately assess the risks involved with heavy metals in various products or settings. For more information on Cardno ChemRisk's capabilities, please contact Dr. Andy Monnot.