high levels of arsenic in baby rice

Dangerous Levels of Arsenic Found in Seven Popular Baby Rice Products

Tests on 26 baby rice products revealed that almost a quarter broke EU safety rules. 

Dangerous levels of arsenic have been found in seven baby rice products sold in UK supermarkets.

Channel 4’s ‘Food Unwrapped’ show revealed that just shy of a quarter of 26 baby rice foods that were tested broke EU safety rules. 

A food research expert, Professor Andy Meharg, said that parents should restrict baby rice feeds to 30 grams a day but he went on to say, 

‘I would not feed young children rice at all.’

He said that even small amounts of arsenic could have severe impacts on young children’s immune system development, growth, and IQ. He has called for much better labeling on packaging. 

There are a lot of foods that contain low levels of naturally occurring arsenic but because rice is grown in flooded fields where traces are far higher and are absorbed more easily, levels in rice are higher. 

Parents will commonly use baby rice to wean babies off breast milk and/or formula and on to solid foods. 

‘Food Unwrapped’ interviewed a number of parents who said that the findings were shocking with one describing the high levels of arsenic as ‘scary.’ 

Another stated, ‘There should be more warnings because I wouldn’t give my child that product.’

It does raise an important point about food labeling, with parents calling for more clarity. One idea from a parent is to use a simple colour-coding system such as those that list nutritional values and levels of sugar and fat. 

Unfortunately, ‘Food Unwrapped’ set to broadcast tonight at 8:30 pm, does not name the seven products with the high levels of arsenic. You’ll have to do the digging yourself. 

A spokesman from the Food Standards Agency said:

Arsenic is naturally occurring in the environment and it is not possible to totally eliminate it from the diet. But because it has the potential to increase the risk of illnesses, including cancer, it is important to reduce exposure to as low as reasonably achievable.

‘Maximum legal levels are in place for arsenic in rice, with stricter levels for rice used in the production of foods for infants and young children. It is the responsibility of food manufacturers to ensure they use ingredients in compliance with the legislation. Where non-compliance is found, enforcement officers will investigate and take action as needed.’

It just goes to show that reading the label really is important. 

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