Good news about apple juice standards: Less arsenic 

Apples have been causing problems since, well, that first bite. And more recently, apple juice has been the trigger for a debate about arsenic in your food supply — and how safe it is for kids to drink apple juice that may contain this carcinogen.

The debate started when Dr. Oz announced on his show in the fall of 2011 that results of lab tests on commercially available apple juices found higher levels of total arsenic than allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency in drinking water!

At first, the push back was strong. But after Consumer Reports came out with similar findings, Dr. Oz and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began a dialogue. The result? New standards have been established for inorganic arsenic in apple juice — 10 parts per billion, the same level the EPA sets for drinking water. (Inorganic arsenic may come from pesticides used on foods grown outside North America. Organic arsenic is found naturally in soil and plants. The debate about organic arsenic's safety is ongoing.)

So, now you can feel secure about drinking or serving apple juice, but here's how to feel even more secure.

1. Limit all naturally sweet juices to one serving a day. The sugar in them interferes with your child's appetite for nutritious foods. And NEVER serve a juice with added sugar or sugar syrup in it.

2. If possible, buy organic juices and juices made from fruit grown in the U.S. or Canada. That way you'll know for sure that inorganic, arsenic-laced pesticides were not used on those crops.

THE ABCs OF HEPATITIS VACCINES

If there were a vaccine against goofs, we (and our staff) would be the first ones in line. But, alas, there's no EEV (Edit Error Vaccine). So when an attentive reader pointed out that there's no hepatitis C vaccine either (in a feature last month on common infections, we said there was, even though we know perfectly well vaccines are available only for hep A and B), we wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks for catching the error and to pass along exciting news about the potential for a real hep C vaccine.

The University of Alberta researcher who discovered the hepatitis C virus in 1989 says his team has developed a vaccine that's effective against all strains of hep C — if clinical trials confirm initial results. In the U.S., researchers at The Scripps Research Institute also have identified antibodies to hep C, and there are even more potential breakthroughs brewing.

In the meantime, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges everyone born between 1945 and 1965 to get a hep C test — 67 percent of the 3 million people with hep C in the U.S. are baby boomers, but three-quarters of them don't know they have it! Other folks who should be tested include: anyone who is HIV positive, on dialysis or an IV drug user; and any recipient of clotting factor before 1987 or an organ transplant or transfusion before 1992.

So ask your doc about being tested today, and keep your eye out for the announcement that there finally is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis C.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.

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