Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final limit on the amounts of arsenic in baby rice cereal. This is the first time the FDA has put any limits on any food that could contain arsenic.
It is widely known that white cereals with certain grains can sometimes contain arsenic, but rice cereals can be much higher. Rice cereals, due to their absorption rate, may contain up to ten times more of the heavy metal.
What is Arsenic?
According to the CDC, arsenic is a naturally occurring element that can combine with either inorganic or organic substances to form many different compounds. Simply stated, inorganic arsenic compounds can be found in soils, sediments, and groundwater. These compounds can happen either naturally or because of mining, smelting, or when using arsenic for industrial purposes. Organic arsenic compounds, on the other hand, are found primarily in fish and shellfish.
Here’s an interesting fact! Back in the day people used inorganic forms of arsenic in pesticides and paint pigment. People also used them thinking they were good for preserving woods as well a way to treat a variety of ailments. Luckily, we know better now and there are laws that restrict using arsenic-containing pesticides, wood preservatives, and medicines.
The Effects of Arsenic on Your Health
According to the CDC, large doses of inorganic arsenic can cause symptoms ranging from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea to dehydration and shock. Long-term exposure can cause certain medical conditions such as skin disorders, high blood pressure, and even several types of cancer.
The FDA has now established a limit for inorganic arsenic of 100 parts per billion (ppb) in baby food. This is a voluntary limit and unenforceable currently. With the cooperation of makers of these products, we can hope to see arsenic completely out of baby foods. For more information on arsenic in food products, please visit the FDA link here.
If you or a loved one is experience symptoms like these, please reach out to the Texas Poison Center Network for guidance and help. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-222-1222.