New Research Shows Illegal Levels of Arsenic Found in Baby Foods

b60e0adf-15fa-462f-a77c-61b64f083f0barticleimage.jpg

05 May 2017 --- In January 2016, the EU imposed a maximum limit of inorganic arsenic on manufacturers in a bid to mitigate associated health risks. Researchers at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's have found that little has changed since this law was passed and that 50 per cent of baby rice food products still contain an illegal level of inorganic arsenic.

Professor Meharg, lead author of the study and Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at Queen's, said: “This research has shown direct evidence that babies are exposed to illegal levels of arsenic despite the EU regulation to specifically address this health challenge. Babies are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of arsenic that can prevent the healthy development of a baby's growth, IQ and immune system to name but a few.”

Rice has, typically, ten times more inorganic arsenic than other foods and chronic exposure can cause a range of health problems including developmental problems, heart disease, diabetes and nervous system damage.

As babies are rapidly growing they are at a sensitive stage of development and are known to be more susceptible to the damaging effects of arsenic, which can inhibit their development and cause long-term health problems. Babies and young children under the age of five also eat around three times more food on a body weight basis than adults, which means that, relatively, they have three times greater exposures to inorganic arsenic from the same food item.

The research findings, published in the PLOS ONE journal today, compared the level of arsenic in urine samples among infants who were breast-fed or formula-fed before and after weaning. A higher concentration of arsenic was found in formula-fed infants, particularly among those who were fed non-dairy formulas which includes rice-fortified formulas favored for infants with dietary requirements such as wheat or dairy intolerance. The weaning process further increased infants' exposure to arsenic, with babies five times more exposed to arsenic after the weaning process, highlighting the clear link between rice-based baby products and exposure to arsenic.

In this new study, researchers at Queen's also compared baby food products containing rice before and after the law was passed and discovered that higher levels of arsenic were in fact found in the products since the new regulations were implemented. Nearly 75 per cent of the rice-based products specifically marketed for infants and young children contained more than the standard level of arsenic stipulated by the EU law.

Rice and rice-based products are a popular choice for parents, widely used during weaning, and to feed young children, due to its availability, nutritional value and relatively low allergic potential.

Professor Meharg explained: “Products such as rice-cakes and rice cereals are common in babies' diets. This study found that almost three-quarters of baby crackers, specifically marketed for children exceeded the maximum amount of arsenic.”

Previous research led by Professor Meharg highlighted how a simple process of percolating rice could remove up to 85 per cent of arsenic. Professor Meharg adds: “Simple measures can be taken to dramatically reduce the arsenic in these products so there is no excuse for manufacturers to be selling baby food products with such harmful levels of this carcinogenic substance.

“Manufacturers should be held accountable for selling products that are not meeting the required EU standard. Companies should publish the levels of arsenic in their products to prevent those with illegal amounts from being sold. This will enable consumers to make an informed decision, aware of any risks associated before consuming products containing arsenic.”

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

Related Articles

Food Ingredients News

Sensient execs on Mazza buy: “We want to take everything out of the botanical”

20 Jul 2018 --- Sensient is eyeing the newly acquired botanical extraction company Mazza Innovation as a strategic pillar for all of its business operations, including colors and flavors. Presented under the new name of “Sensient Natural Extraction” and continuing to operate out of Canada, the new business unit provides a clean extraction opportunity for Sensient Technologies Corp. The acquisition will offer opportunities in sustainability, cost reduction and clean label, as the entire botanical being used can be broken down and distributed among the diverse companies that comprise Sensient.

Food Ingredients News

Weekly Digest: Symrise nominated for Sustainability Award, innovation in cricket protein flours

20 Jul 2018 --- Symrise has been nominated for the German Sustainability Award. Cricket protein brand Seek, has launched a new line of high protein and sustainable baking flours. Michel Burla, Managing Director of the Cereals and Ingredients Division of the Hochdorf Group, is to step down at the end of this year and GEA has been working with Almarai Company in Saudi Arabia to build the nation’s largest and most modern dairy processing facility.

Food Ingredients News

Nuts for nuts: Market value for macadamias grows by 72 percent

18 Jul 2018 --- Nuts and their health benefits are widely understood. Green & Gold Macadamias has reported a 60 percent rise in global tree nut consumption, which is a testament to the fact that people are eating more and more of them. As a result of this, the market value for macadamias is up by 72 percent, according to Green & Gold Macadamias, who believe that macadamias will be seen more predominantly in milk, butters, nut-based beverages and vegan cheeses, as well as a host of other new products.

Food Ingredients News

Sundogs: Hydrosol launches vegan compound for sausages with sunflower & pea protein

17 Jul 2018 --- Plant-based claims are dominating the food industry and the trend for plant-based foods is not slowing down. Not only addressing health megatrends as well as the growing expectations of consumers, regarding animal protection, plant-based foods also appeal to flexitarian, vegetarian lifestyles to vegan alternatives for fish, meat and dairy. In response to these trends, Hydrosol has launched Sundogs, all-in compound, which the company believes are an ideal fit.

Food Ingredients News

Reb M capacity increase: PureCircle expands production of its Starleaf stevia

16 Jul 2018 --- Producer of stevia sweeteners, PureCircle, has expanded its capacity to supply significantly more Reb M to global beverage and food companies. Using beverage sweetening as an equivalized example, PureCircle can now supply enough Reb M to sweeten approximately 500 million cases of zero-calorie carbonated soft drinks. The company continues to build production capacity and estimates that three years from now, it could supply enough Reb M to sweeten 1 billion cases of zero-calorie carbonated soft drinks or the equivalent in beverages and foods using Reb M as the sweetener.

More Articles