|Courtesy The Dr. Oz Show|
When Dr. Mehmet Oz outlined the unsafe amounts of arsenic found in apple juice earlier this fall, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was quick to deny his claims, saying that the majority of the arsenic was organic, or “harmless.”
But in the months since then, Dr. Oz’s claims have been backed by Consumer Reports, and the FDA is now researching two types of organic arsenic found in apple juice that could potentially be harmful, as well as evidence that suggests inorganic arsenic makes up a larger quantity of apple juice than previously believed.
“We argued that organic arsenic was not safe. Everyone seems to agree with that now,” Dr. Oz tells PEOPLE.
“We argued that the predominant type of arsenic in apple juice is inorganic. Everyone agrees with that now. I think that a lot of the disagreements and the anger that was hoisted at the show after the original broadcast has dissipated.”
And despite that initial backlash, Dr. Oz never waivered in the validity of his findings.
“I knew that we had done our homework well. I was confident that we had done the right thing,” he says. “Even if people were going to be upset with us, we had told the public what we would tell our own families.”
“I also think it’s my obligation,” he continues, “at my core as a doctor. I’ve got to give that advice to you even when it’s uncomfortable. One thing we learn in medicine is to give bad news even when it’s not popular to hear.”
As a father of four, Dr. Oz reveals he never gave his children apple juice as infants, but as a guideline for parents, recommends giving kids under the age of six no more than 4 to 6 oz., and for kids older than that, 8 to 12 oz. at most.
“What you do is cut it with water or add orange juice or alternate with orange juice, which does not seem to have arsenic in it,” he says. “That’s what parents are going to have to do until the FDA comes out with new guidelines on how much arsenic they are going to tolerate.”
To that end, Dr. Oz, who recently became the first man to cover O magazine, is working alongside the FDA to help define new standards of acceptable arsenic levels in not just apple juice, but other food items, like rice, as well, all in the hopes of further helping families make healthier decisions.
“[A mom] goes out to spend her hard-earned cash to buy a box of apple juice that has more arsenic in it than her tap water; there’s something fundamentally wrong with that,” he says. “I had an obligation as a healer, and all of us who have an ability to affect this process, are obliged to protect those women from doing the wrong thing for their children.”
– Kiran Hefa with reporting by Thailan Pham