Thursday, February 16, 2012

Arsenic in Infant Formula and Cereal Bars

A recent study revealed that "cereals bars, energy shots and even infant formula s made with organic brown rice syrup contain particularly high levels of arsenic, compared with products without this syrup. Some cereal bars have concentrations of arsenic that are 12 times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) safe drinking water limit of 10 parts per billion (ppb), the researchers said. The majority of arsenic the researchers found was inorganic, which is generally thought to be more harmful than organic arsenic. Chronic exposure to low levels of inorganic arsenic has been linked to increased risks of bladder, lung and skin cancer, as well as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to the EPA. It's not yet clear whether the arsenic in rice, rice-based products or other foods is harmful to people. But the levels found in infant formulas are concerning, because of infants' small body size, said study researcher Brian Jackson, of the department of Earth sciences at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.
There are currently no rules in the United States governing how much arsenic is allowed in foods, and the guidelines for water are not a fair comparison, because people may consume more water than arsenic-containing foods.
Amounts of arsenic were measured in 17 infant formulas, 29 cereal bars and 3 energy shots purchased from stores in New Hampshire.
Two of the infant formulas contained organic brown rice syrup as their primary ingredient. These products had arsenic levels 20 to 30 times that of the other infant formulas.
Twenty-two of the cereal bars contained at least one rice product (organic brown rice syrup, rice flour, rice grain or rice flakes) listed as one of the first five ingredients. These bars had levels of arsenic that ranged from 23 to 128 parts per billion (ppb). Cereal bars that did not contain rice had much lower arsenic levels, ranging from 8 to 27 ppb."

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