It’s no secret that rice-based products like rice cereal and rice cakes contain trace levels of arsenic. Even though international health organizations have claimed that the levels of poisonous chemicals in rice should not be enough to alarm customers, the FDA is stepping up and is proposing a limit on arsenic levels in baby rice cereal.
Young children are particularly susceptible to the effects of low levels of arsenic and studies have shown children who have been exposed regularly perform worse on school testing.
The FDA is now calling for infant rice cereal producers to cap inorganic arsenic parts at 100 per billion, which is similar to the standards set by the European Commission, according to the Wall Street Journal. Major brands like Gerber have issued press releases stating that their products already meet the FDA proposed standards.
“Gerber monitors and controls for arsenic in our rice ingredients, as arsenic can occur naturally in rice through the growing process. Any ingredient that does not meet our high standards for quality is rejected,” Gerber representatives said in a statement.
The good news is that the FDA tested 76 samples of infant rice cereal and found that more than three-quarters contained less than 110 arsenic parts per one billion.
“While Consumer Reports is pleased to see that the FDA has finally proposed a limit on arsenic in infant rice cereal,” Dr. Urvashi Rangan, executive director of the advocate’s food safety and sustainability center, told the Wall Street Journal, “we remain concerned that so many other rice-based products consumed by children and adults remain without any standards at all.”