FDA Suggests Cutting Down On Inorganic Arsenic Levels In Infants’ Rice Meals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that it is working to cut the inorganic arsenic levels in rice meals for infants, which is a main source of arsenic exposure in babies. As it turns out, the child's performance rate in learning would decrease if they were exposed to inorganic arsenic as an infant or while their mother is pregnant.

FDA Offers Suggestions

The FDA suggests a limit of 100 parts per billion (ppb) in the cereal, which is based on the level that the European Commission set for rice cereals that were made for infants and young children, Reuters reported. The test found that most cereals on the market meet or at least close to the suggested level.

The FDA was not recommending the consumers to change their current patterns of rice consumptions. It was just offering targeted information for pregnant mothers and infants for them to reduce their exposure.

Nestle SA's unit, Gerber, offers infant rice cereal products, was able to meet the proposed standards given by the FDA, according to Wendy Johnson-Askew, a spokeswoman for the food products giant. Abbot, Kraft Heinz Co. and other manufacturers; however, did not immediately respond to the comment request.

Arsenic Levels Are Dangerous

Arsenic occurs naturally in water and soil while pesticides and fertilizers contribute to levels. It is not intentionally added to rice and it cannot be removed. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization considered inorganic arsenic as toxic as it contains chlorine, oxygen and sulfur. On the other hand, the organic arsenic contains hydrogen and carbon, as reported by the Washington Post.

Babies should be fed iron-fortified cereals such as oat, barley and other grains, as advised by the WHO. Pregnant women should eat a variety of food, which includes grains like wheat, oats and barley. Cooking rice in excess water can reduce a huge part of the inorganic arsenic, as noted by the FDA.

Inorganic arsenic is often used in feed for poultry and hogs to prevent disease. The wastes from these animals contaminate the fields and waterways once used as fertilizer. The inorganic arsenic will then be absorbed by rice, vegetables, fruit and seafood, which are all considered healthy food.

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