Watch out for too much arsenic in baby foods

Harold Mandel's picture
Feeding a baby

Researchers have reported that illegal levels of arsenic have been discovered in baby foods.

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Good nutrition is essential for the normal development of a baby. Findings of too much arsenic in some baby foods has therefore been very disturbing.

Arsenic has been found in drinking water, apple juice and other foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, poultry, and cereals. Queen's University Belfast reports that research has shown there are illegal levels of arsenic in many baby foods.

About half of baby rice food products have been found to contain illegal levels of inorganic arsenic

In spite of new regulations which have been set by the EU about half of baby rice food products have been found to contain illegal levels of inorganic arsenic. Rice generally has ten times more inorganic arsenic than other foods. Chronic exposure to arsenic can cause many health problems which include developmental problems, diabetes, heart disease and damage to the nervous system.

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During their sensitive stage of development babies are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of arsenic. Arsenic can undermine the normal development of babies and lead to long term health problems. And growing kids need to eat often which means there are high levels of arsenic exposure from contaminated foods.

Professor Meharg, who was the lead author of the study and who is a Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at Queen's, has commented that products such as rice cakes and rice cereals are very common in the diets of babies. In this study about 75 percent of baby crackers which are specifically marketed for kids exceeded the maximum amount of allowable arsenic. Rice and rice based products are a very popular choice for parents to feed their children.

Arsenic is a carcinogenic substance

There is actually no excuse for food manufacturers to be selling baby food products which have such harmful levels of arsenic, which is a carcinogenic substance. Professor Meharg has pointed out in past research that simply
percolating rice could remove as much as 85 per cent of arsenic.

PLOS ONE has published this study. Exposure of inorganic arsenic to kids early in life is of significant concern because it may adversely impact health outcomes over lifetimes. There are greater initiatives needed to make certain baby foods and others foods do not exceed levels of arsenic which can be harmful.

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