As long-time readers know, I despise people who knowingly put out false medical information. (Search “Maloney” or “Moritz” for examples of my fact-filled anger.) It’s irresponsible. It’s dangerous. It’s stupid. With the Republican War on Science, the American education system, and wide-spread religious belief, scientific facts don’t need more bullshit artists out there. To do away with alternative and integrative ‘medicine’ practitioners would be nothing short of wonderful. These people promote unproven procedures and drugs that do nothing beyond the placebo effect. It’s awful and they all ought to be ashamed.
Unfortunately, shame isn’t something TV personality Dr. Oz feels easily. He recently tested grocery store apple juices for arsenic levels and determined that there was a dangerous level present. School districts have already taken apple juice off school menus. Parents are alarmed and others are concerned. “Arsenic! Why, that sounds awful! Destroy all the apples!” Except Dr. Oz, a promoter of quackery, failed to distinguish between organic and inorganic arsenic. The former is considered safe at relatively high levels whereas the latter is not. Oz just found the sum total and reported that figure (and, as it turns out, inaccurately anyway). Doctors around the country are calling on Oz to correct his fundamental error. In fact, the FDA sent him this letter before the infamous episode aired:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is aware that EMSL Analytical, Inc. has obtained and tested 50 samples of retail apple juice for total arsenic content on behalf of Zoco Productions. It is our understanding that, based on these test results, you will assert during an upcoming episode of The Dr. Oz Show that apple juice is unsafe because of the amounts of total arsenic found in the samples.
We appreciate that you have made the results of these tests available to us. As we have previously advised you, the results from total arsenic tests CANNOT be used to determine whether a food is unsafe because of its arsenic content. We have explained to you that arsenic occurs naturally in many foods in both inorganic and organic forms and that only the inorganic forms of arsenic are toxic, depending on the amount. We have advised you that the test for total arsenic DOES NOT distinguish inorganic arsenic from organic arsenic.
The FDA has been aware of the potential for elevated levels of arsenic in fruit juices for many years and has been testing fruit juices for arsenic and other elemental contaminants as part of FDA’s toxic elements in foods program. The FDA typically tests juice samples for total arsenic first, because this test is rapid, accurate and cost effective. When total arsenic testing shows that a fruit juice sample has total arsenic in an amount greater than 23 parts per billion (ppb), we re-test the sample for its inorganic arsenic content. The vast majority of samples we have tested for total arsenic have less than 23 ppb. We consider the test results for inorganic arsenic on a case-by-case basis and take regulatory action as appropriate.
The analytical method for inorganic arsenic is much more complicated than the method for total arsenic. You can find the method that FDA uses to test for inorganic arsenic at this web address:
The FDA believes that it would be irresponsible and misleading for The Dr. Oz Show to suggest that apple juice contains unsafe amounts of arsenic based solely on tests for total arsenic. Should The Dr. Oz Show choose to suggest that apple juice is unsafe because of the amounts of total arsenic found by EMSL Analytical, Inc.’s testing, the FDA will post this letter on its website.
People tried to prevent this information from being released. A number of independent labs have confirmed the safety of the apple juice Americans are buying, including the batch tested by Oz. Doctors are calling on Oz to retract his statements. At no point has it been unclear that misinformation and fear is all this quack is spreading. But has that caused Oz to correct his horribly flawed report? Nope:
Tim Sullivan, a spokesman for Oz’s show, said in an interview: “We don’t think the show is irresponsible. We think the public has a right to know what’s in their foods.”
“The position of the show is that the total arsenic needs to be lower,” he said. “We did the tests. We stand by the results and we think the standards should be different.”
What a load of horseshit. The show is obviously irresponsible. It just wants to create a stir because it knows its audience consists of many mothers with young children or grandchildren, many of whom drink apple juice. This is about ratings, pure and simple. Oz’s test was flawed because he did not understand the difference between arsenic types. He should have known that prior to even thinking about doing any tests, he was told as much by the FDA, and now every doctor and lab in the country is telling him again. The fact that he would stand by the horseshit claim that he’s just looking out for the public makes him a piece of shit.