As a pediatrician, I strive to stay true to my training and defer to other experts for areas I am not well versed in or need additional input. If a parent asked me about the safety of apple juice, for example, I’d defer to my laboratory colleagues helping me interpret the data and information from the FDA. After those conversations concluded, I’d be able to confidently inform the family that, yes, apple juice is safe to drink. If that same family asked about other substances, such as arsenic. I’d inform them that the organic form of arsenic is safe and in levels well under any danger zone.
I have to admit. I’m always a bit taken a back when I hear of a physician over stepping his or her bounds on a subject, especially when that physician is in the spotlight somehow. Being in the spotlight, though, doesn’t give us license to talk abut just anything. We still have to stick to our training.
So, it puzzles me that Dr. Oz would be so bold in his claims that arsenic is in apple juice at unsafe levels. And, it surprises me even more that he’d have the audacity to argue with a pediatrician, Dr. Richard Besser, as well as the FDA, both of whom have gone on record stating Dr. Oz’s assertions are “irresponsible” and “fear mongering”.
As a cardiothoracic surgeon attempting to raise awareness on the many issues to stay healthy, it’s important that Dr. Oz know his limits and understand that the power of being a TV host has to be used with incredibly discretion. Responsible reporting would have been to take his concerns to the FDA and then report the FDA’s findings:
“On September 10-11, 2011, the FDA completed laboratory analysis of the same lot of Gerber apple juice that was tested by the Dr. Oz. Show, as well as several other lots produced in the same facility. The FDA’s testing detected very low levels of total arsenic in all samples tested. These new results were consistent with the FDA’s results obtained in the FDA’s routine monitoring program and are well below the results reported by the Dr. Oz Show. The FDA has concluded that the very low levels detected during our analysis are not a public health risk and the juice products are safe for consumption.”
If you’re interested, you can view Dr. Oz’s exchange with Dr. Besser on Good Morning America this morning. Not only is it great TV but shows the many holes in Dr. Oz’s arguments:
I have zero hesitation about my kids drinking apple juice not should you. The data from the FDA is clear and conclusive that the type of arsenic measured is not a health concern.