Beech-Nut recalls tainted juice in Canada

A Canadian supermarket chain pulled two types of arsenic-tainted toddler juice off its shelves earli
PHOTOGRAPHER:

A Canadian supermarket chain pulled two types of arsenic-tainted toddler juice off its shelves earlier this week, including one made by the Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp. in Canajoharie.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Loblaws supermarket chain issued a public warning Tuesday about two brands of pear juice. The announcement came after Canadian health inspectors discovered high levels of arsenic in them.

The high arsenic levels prompted Loblaws to voluntarily recall its Beech-Nut Pear Juice from Concentrate with Vitamin C added and President’s Choice Organics Pear Juice from Concentrate for Toddlers. Beech-Nut followed suit by voluntarily recalling its juice in 128 ml containers.

No illnesses or injuries have been reported in connection with the tainted juice.

“Beech-Nut is fully cooperating with the CFIA and Loblaws Inc. on this matter. Beech-Nut takes all necessary precautions to ensure that our products are compliant with current CFIA requirements and that our consumers are not at any risk. We believe that our product complies with such requirements,” Beech-Nut said in a statement.

By Friday, CFIA and Beech-Nut officials were still trying to determine how the juice became contaminated with arsenic, a toxic heavy metal and possible carcinogen that could cause developmental problems in children.

“The investigation is still ongoing,” said CFIA spokesman Garfield Balsom.

Although Beech-Nut’s pear juice was made in Canajoharie, it was not distributed within the United States. The recalled Beech-Nut juice was only sold by Loblaws, said Beech-Nut spokeswoman Samara Mormar.

Loblaws is a Brampton, Ontario, chain with more than 70 stores throughout Canada. Beech-Nut, a Canajoharie baby food manufacturer, is a subsidiary of the Hero Group in Lenzburg, Switzerland.

Balsom said arsenic levels of juice samples measured between 87 and 107 parts per billion. Those levels could endanger a toddler’s health through long-term exposure.

Mormar said it was not clear how the high level of arsenic ended up in Beech-Nut’s juice. Arsenic naturally occurs in air, food and water in trace amounts, which do not pose health dangers.

Crops acquire arsenic from soil, from which they also obtain nutrients. Soil’s average concentration of arsenic is 2 parts per million.

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