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FDA standard on arsenic in rice baby food ‘ineffective’

A slew of recent studies have found scary amounts of arsenic in rice baby food, frightening many new parents already stressed out by all-night feedings and endless diaper changes. In a world where environmental dangers seem to lurk in every corner, here is a simple piece of advice:

Consider other options. Or make your own.

“Parents have a lot of easy ways to reduce their babies’ exposure now, because there are so many new cereal options on the market; many are fortified with iron that babies need, and many are just as affordable as rice cereal,” said Jane Houlihan, research director for Healthy Babies Bright Futures.

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed limits for the amount of arsenic allowed in infant baby cereals, but the regulations have not yet been put into effect. In 2016, the FDA proposed a recommendation of no more than 100 parts per billion of arsenic in infant cereal, but that is by no means a requirement. The Environmental Protection Agency does limit inorganic arsenic in public drinking water.

The Healthy Babies Bright Futures organization commissioned Brooks Applied Labs in Bothell, Wash., to test over 100 samples of infant cereals, including 45 products made by nine companies. The alliance’s report, which has not been published in a journal and has not been peer-reviewed, found that, overall, oatmeal, barley, buckwheat, organic quinoa, wheat and rice-free multigrain baby cereals contained much lower amounts of arsenic than rice cereals. The bottom line is that the study found 85 parts per billion of arsenic in the rice cereals tested on average. One product registered at 235 parts per billion.

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