Study finds high levels of arsenic in some baby formulas, cereal bars

ABC News reported, “And now, we wanted to go in depth tonight on that headline about surprisingly high levels of arsenic hiding in food, including brown rice, organic formula for toddlers.”

The new study” reported online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives “is causing a lot of confusion. Is this cause for real alarm?”

ABC News medical editor Richard Besser, MD, explained, “Dartmouth researchers tested baby formulas and found Baby’s Only Organic, Toddler Dairy and Soy formulas contained six times more arsenic than what the FDA says is safe in drinking water.”

Arsenic” is “in one of the main ingredients, brown rice syrup.”

On NBC Nightly News, correspondent Tom Costello reported, “Once used as a pesticide, arsenic tends to stay in the soil where it’s absorbed by new crops like rice.”

He added, “While the EPA regulates the amount of arsenic allowed in water, there are no regulations on arsenic in juice or food.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “said it began studying arsenic levels in rice last October.

Meanwhile, Nature’s One says independent tests have shown arsenic levels were, quote, ‘undetectable’ in its toddler formula.”

“Arsenic was also found in some cereal bars that contain organic brown rice syrup,” the Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports.

The type of arsenic “found in the food products has been identified as a human carcinogen. Arsenic can also cause skin, lung and intestinal irritation as well as miscarriage and infertility.”

According to the Boston Globe, the study measured arsenic levels in “17 infant formulas, 29 cereal bars, and three energy shots that were purchased from local stores in Hanover, New Hampshire.”

Investigators “found that the two baby formulas that contained brown rice syrup had arsenic levels that were far above the EPA standard for drinking water and more than 20 times greater than each of the 15 formulas that didn’t contain brown rice syrup.”

Notably, “arsenic levels in the two formulas were also higher than the World Health Organization’s ‘maximum tolerable daily intake’ standard for babies, who are particularly vulnerable to arsenic’s neurological effects because of their small size and developing brain.”

The National Journal reports, “Cereal bars that listed at least one rice product like brown-rice syrup or rice flour among their top five ingredients were more likely to contain arsenic, the researchers found. The team tested 29 cereal bars and found that the 22 bars containing rice had arsenic concentrations ranging from 23 to 128 parts per billion. The federal limit for arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion,” the Journal notes.

Bloomberg News reports, “While arsenic has been recognized as a contaminant in drinking water, there are currently no federal thresholds for arsenic in juices or most foods.

Legislation was introduced Feb. 8 in the US House of Representatives calling on the Food and Drug Administration to establish standards for arsenic and lead in fruit juices.”

Bloomberg News quotes a statement by the study’s lead author, Brian Jackson of Dartmouth, who stated, “In the absence of regulations for levels of arsenic in food, I would certainly advise parents who are concerned about their children’s exposure to arsenic not to feed them formula where brown rice syrup is the main ingredient.”

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