New research has found that more than half of some of the most popular rice cereal products exceed proposed new limits for arsenic.
Although there are strict limits for the amount of arsenic level allowed in water, there are currently no maximum levels in food – and now some scientists are speaking out as they are concerned about the effects of long-term exposure.
In November 2012, Consumer Reports magazine published “Arsenic in Your Food,” a report on arsenic in rice and foods made from rice. At the same time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the first part of a larger study of arsenic in food.
Most foods contain some amount of organic arsenic, which occurs naturally in the earth. Experts are more concerned when a food contains certain levels of inorganic arsenic, which is used in pesticides and other industrial chemicals. Inorganic arsenic is a potent human carcinogen and can lead to other health problems later in life.
Consumer Reports discovered that some infant rice cereals contain at least five times as much inorganic arsenic as alternatives such as oatmeal – and calculated that a baby who eats two to three servings of rice cereal a day could end up with a risk of cancer that’s twice what CR considers an acceptable level.
As more evidence emerges about the harm high levels of arsenic might cause, particularly to children, the European Union is again exceeding U.S. standards with new maximum levels being proposed with the support of the Food Standards Agency.
During the research products including Kelloggs‘ Rice Krispies and Organic puffed rice cereals were tested multiple times – and some showed high levels of inorganic arsenic, far above the proposed limits.
Rice Krispies by Kelloggs were found to have 188 ppb, far above the recommended levels for babies and children.
Past research has shown that exposure to a combination of both arsenic and estrogen, at levels U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers “safe” for humans, can cause cancer at elevated levels. The higher levels of added organic brown rice syrup in soy-based formula may explain why some researchers found higher levels of arsenic in the soy-based formula. Combined with the presence of both phytoestrogens, soy-based formulas are a disease promoting ticking time bomb for infants. Texas Tech University researchers revealed that humans exposed to a combination of both toxicants were almost twice as likely to develop cancerous cells in their prostate. The study is published in the peer-reviewed journal The Prostate.
To make matters worse, Nestle and Mead Johnson Nutrition recently dismissed calls to remove genetically-modified organisms (GMO) from their infant formula products in the US and now evidence is coming forth on long-term risks related to infant formulations.
Professor Andrew Meharg, Professor of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, stated: ‘The European Union is going to set standards for arsenic levels in baby rice at 100 parts per billion. To my estimation that is far too high. It should be at least half that.
‘The limits are set so as not to disrupt the rice trade rather than on the risk to human health.’
People around the world are consuming five and ten times the amount of rice they did just 40 years ago.
Kellogg’s said their cereals are not in the category of foods for infants and young children, and said it’s a complex issue and a number of proposed limits are on the table.
A Kelloggs spokesman said: ‘The testing we have done shows that the levels are within the limits of the most up to date proposals we have seen. We will continue to work with government agencies, scientists, academics and others in the food industry at a global level to review the data on this topic.’