FDA disputes Dr. Oz on arsenic

The federal Food and Drug Administration and a leading doctor are disputing suggestions by television show host Dr. Mehmet Oz that trace amounts of arsenic in many apple juice products pose a health concern.

Arsenic in apple juice! Fed to babies! And it probably came from China! Television's Dr. Mehmet Oz is under fire from the Food and Drug Administration and others for sounding what they say is a false alarm about dangers of apple juice.

Oz, one of TV's most popular medical experts, said on his Fox show Wednesday that testing by a New Jersey lab had found what he suggested were troubling levels of arsenic in many brands of juice. The FDA said its own tests show no such thing, even on one of the same juice batches Oz cited. "There is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices. And FDA has been testing them for years," the agency said in a statement.

The flap escalated Thursday when Oz's former medical school classmate, Richard Besser, lambasted him on ABC's "Good Morning America" for what Besser called an "extremely irresponsible" report.

Besser was acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before joining ABC news as health and medical editor several years ago. Oz is a heart surgeon at Columbia University and heads an alternative medicine program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He and Michael Roizen publish "The You Docs" column weekly in The Post and Courier.

Arsenic is present in water, air, food and soil in two forms, organic and inorganic. According to the FDA, organic arsenic passes through the body quickly and is essentially harmless. Inorganic arsenic, the type found in pesticides, can be toxic and may pose a cancer risk.

"The Dr. Oz Show" did not break down the type when it tested several dozen juice samples for total arsenic. As a result, the FDA said the results are misleading. Furthermore, the agency's own tests found far lower total arsenic levels from one of the same juice batches the Oz show tested -- 2 to 6 parts per billion of arsenic versus the 36 that Oz's show had reported.