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Parents Of Babies Warned Of Possible Danger In Rice Cereal

The Food and Drug Administration is warning parents to watch the amount of rice cereal they feed their children due to arsenic in the cereal.
The Food and Drug Administration is warning parents to watch the amount of rice cereal they feed their children due to arsenic in the cereal. Photo Credit: www.flickr.com

Parents with babies will want to avoid rice cereal, the Food and Drug Administration said in a news release, as it works to reduce the levels of inorganic arsenic in the cereal aimed at babies.

Because babies tend to love rice cereal and it is often one of their first foods, rice cereal has become a “leading source of arsenic exposure in infants,” the FDA said.

“Our actions are driven by our duty to protect the public health and our careful analysis of the data and the emerging science,” said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “The proposed limit is a prudent and achievable step to reduce exposure to arsenic among infants.”

“Rice cereal fortified with iron is a good source of nutrients for your baby, but it shouldn’t be the only source, and does not need to be the first source,” the FDA said.

They offered the following suggestions:

  • Feed your baby iron-fortified cereals to be sure she or he is receiving enough of this important nutrient.
  • Rice cereal fortified with iron is a good source of nutrients for your baby, but it shouldn’t be the only source, and does not need to be the first source. Other fortified infant cereals include oat, barley and multigrain.
  • For toddlers, provide a well-balanced diet, which includes a variety of grains.

There are two general types of arsenic: organic and inorganic, which together are referred to as “total arsenic.” The term “organic” in this context has nothing to do with types of farming — it refers to chemical elements. If arsenic atoms bond with carbon, the compound is organic. If there’s no carbon present, it’s inorganic. Of the two types, the inorganic forms of arsenic have been more closely associated with adverse health effects, the FDA said.

FDA officials are requiring companies that make rice cereal to make sure that it contain no more than 100 parts per billion of inorganic arsenic, a level that nearly half of all cereals already meet or are under, the FDA said.

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