FILED IN: Health

New concerns over baby rice cereal and arsenic levels

Some pediatricians are asking parenting to think twice about feeding their baby rice cereal. Photo via Jose Alfredo Gomez Soberano.

Consumer Reports has just released a study that finds an alarming amount of deadly arsenic in baby rice products. In light of the findings, consumer groups are pressuring the FDA to set guidelines and restrictions on arsenic levels in rice and rice cereals.

While arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical element in the earth, elevated levels are now being found in rice because arsenic comes from water, which already contains arsenic — add in the arsenic containing fertilizers being used to grow rice and that only compounds the arsenic levels.

According to Fox News, the USA Rice Federation, a 34 billion dollar industry, is denying claims arsenic levels in rice are dangerous.

The organization’s spokeswoman, Anne Banville, responded to the claim by saying, “The health benefits of rice must be properly weighed against the risks of arsenic exposure, which we believe are minimal.”

Because of the Consumer Reports finding, the FDA has agreed to conduct their own investigation about appropriate arsenic levels but those results will not be ready until the end of the year.

The same demands were brought about by consumer groups over apple juice last year after Dr. Oz aired several TV spots outlining his concerns with arsenic levels in apple juice.  The FDA has since conducted their own study on arsenic levels in apple juice and are in the process of making formal recommendations based on those findings, however, the deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA, Michael Taylor says the findings show that arsenic levels in apple juice “are low”. How that will translate to the updated recommendations is yet to be seen.

Until that time, some pediatricians have come out and suggested parents forgo offering rice cereal and rice to their babies and children until further data is released.

Fox News also reports that brown rice has higher levels of arsenic than white rice and rice grown in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri have higher levels of arsenic than rice grown in other states.