Swedish researchers are sounding the alarming over what they believe are dangerous levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead in rice-based infant foods.
The authors of the study, from The Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, said “Alarmingly, these complementary foods may also introduce high amounts of toxic elements such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and uranium, mainly from their raw materials, These elements have to be kept at an absolute minimum in food products intended for infant consumption.” The foods in question were produced by global manufacturers such as Nestle and Mead Johnson. The manufacturers are of course insisting that their food products are completely safe.
In 2005, Scottish researchers found arsenic in rice grown in the United States but California’s health department spokesman Ronald Owens said Californians should not be alarmed. According to Owens the state has sampled rice in the past and “analyzed various baby food products for the presence of heavy metals that have never resulted in a finding that were of any public health significance.” The U.S. has not set limits for the amount of arsenic that is acceptable in food. Arsenic gets into rice through soil contaminated with the toxin, which occurs naturally.
Researchers say that two servings of the rice-based foods a day could expose an infant to 50 times the amount of arsenic they would get from breast milk. The European Food Safety Authority is now in the process of re-evaluating its safety limits for arsenic exposure in children and adults.
Arsenic has been linked to cancer and immune system problems.
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