If you’re a parent and give your infant organic baby food or cereal, there’s a new health alert that says it could be dangerous due to concerning levels of arsenic. According to a study by researchers at Dartmouth that was published in Consumer Reports today, some organic baby foods and formulas may indeed be dangerous for your infant.
“I’m very concerned about this because we’re talking about baby formula and baby formula is the main source of nutrition for many children during their first year of life,” Dr. Richard Besser said today on Good Morning America. “That’s a period when you want to avoid poisons like arsenic.”
The Dartmouth researchers looked at 17 different organic baby formulas and cereals and they found that two of those had high levels of arsenic. Below are details from the report that was released today and published in the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal.
- Two of 17 infant formulas tested listed organic brown rice syrup as the primary ingredient. One had a total arsenic concentration that was six times the federal limit of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for total arsenic in bottled or public drinking water. This is particularly worrisome for babies because they are especially vulnerable to arsenic’s toxic effects due to their small size and the corresponding arsenic consumption per pound of body weight.
- Twenty-two of 29 cereal bars or energy bars tested listed at least one of these four rice products – organic brown rice syrup, rice flour, rice grain or rice flakes – among the top five ingredients. The seven other bars were among the lowest in total arsenic, ranging from 8 to 27 ppb, while those containing syrup or other forms of rice ranged from 23 to 128 ppb.
- Tests of high-energy products known as “energy shots” that are used by endurance athletes and others showed that one of the three gel-like blocks contained 84 ppb of total arsenic, while the other two contained 171 ppb.
Dr. Richard Besser from ABC advises that parents read all labels on organic baby food. If organic brown rice syrup is listed as the main ingredient, choose a different organic formula or cereal. He is also concerned about arsenic in energy drinks and adult cereal bars, but says that if you drink or eat just one per day, the levels of arsenic are not dangerous.
Arsenic keeps popping up in food products so Besser states, “What we need is for the FDA to look across the food supply and give its recommendations.” Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group in Washington, D.C., concurs and says, “The FDA needs to take a broader approach toward arsenic in what we eat, rather than going ‘food by food.’”
Kroger and Public, two popular grocery store chains in Atlanta, both offer a wide selection of organic formulas and cereals. When shopping, be sure to stay away from any baby formulas and cereal bars that list organic brown rice syrup as a main ingredient.
To receive future articles by Jackie Kass, scroll to the top of this article, and click on SUBSCRIBE. Do you have a story idea? I’d love to hear from you! E-mail your ideas to me at email@example.com.