Saturday, November 8, 2014

EU limits for Arsenic in Baby Rice Products

The European Union has proposed new limit for arsenic allowed in rice products - 200 ppb for adults and 100 ppb for children and babies.

A recent research has revealed that more than half (58%) of Britain’s popular rice products contain potentially dangerous traces of arsenic. This even includes several baby products like Organix First Organic Wholegrain Baby Rice and Boots Baby organic rice cakes. Although health watchdogs insist that the intake of small quantities of arsenic does not pose any immediate health risks to humans, some medical experts strongly believe that exposure to arsenic over a prolonged period can harm child development and can even lead to cancer or heart disease in later life.

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Basically, two types of arsenic are found in food: organic and inorganic. The inorganic arsenic is more harmful and it is believed to cause cancer when consumed in high quantities. Various studies have shown that rice typically contains around 10 times more inorganic arsenic than many other foods.

Even though strict limits exist on allowable levels of arsenic in drinking water, no statutory limit has been set for food yet. Fortunately, as more evidence has been found concerning the harm that high levels of arsenic might cause, particularly to babies, the European Union has proposed new recommended limits for arsenic in food. With the support of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), EU has set the arsenic standard for food at 200 parts per billion (ppb) for adults and a mere 100 parts per billion (ppb) for children and babies. These proposed new limits are expected to come into force next summer.

In the research conducted by Channel 4’s Dispatches program and the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University in Belfast, around 81 rice products including popular baby products, were tested for arsenic content. The results were shocking as some of these products showed dangerous levels of arsenic - far beyond the proposed limits. For instance, Organic wholegrain baby rice by Organix was found to have 268 ppb of arsenic, which is 168% above recommended levels for babies and children.

Similarly, Rice Krispies by Kelloggs came up with188 ppb, Baby organic rice cakes by Boots had 162 ppb, Organic wholegrain banana porridge by Organix measured 142 ppb, and Smooth Baby Rice by Heinz was found to have 129 ppb of arsenic. Hence, it seems that under the proposed new EU limits, manufacturers will be required to either reformulate their recipes or remove them from the shops.

However, in response to the findings of the research, manufacturers have said that parents should have no cause for concern as all the products are tested strictly and there’s no health risk associated with consuming their products. They have even assured that they will continue to work, ensuring their products are safe and fully complies with any future regulations.



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