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Food Safety Focus (21st Issue, April 2008) – Food Incident Highlight

Arsenic in Pear Juice

In early March 2008, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a health hazard alert for two brands of pear juice for toddlers because they might be contaminated with arsenic. The Centre for Food Safety issued a press release and a food alert to inform the public on the issue as a result.

Arsenic is a common element in nature. It exists in both organic and inorganic forms and may exist in soil, air, water or become airborne. The inorganic forms are usually considered more toxic to human. A large majority of arsenic compounds related to human activities is in the form of inorganic arsenic trioxide, which is known as pishuang in Chinese. On the other hand, the use of arsenic-containing agricultural chemicals can lead to accumulation of arsenic in soil and plants, but this only contributes to trace amount of arsenic in food.

The food trade is advised to obtain food supplies from reliable sources.