Researchers at Dartmouth College have found that certain infant formulas made with organic brown rice syrup contain high levels of arsenic, reports ABC News. The study, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, also noted that there were elevated arsenic levels in brown rice-sweetened cereal bars and energy bars.
While the study did not name the brands it investigated, the research team tested 17 organic powdered formulas, 29 cereal bars and three types of energy shot drinks. They discovered that the two formulas (one milk-based, one soy-based) sweetened by organic brown rice had arsenic levels 20 to 30 times higher than the formulas made without the syrup. One had a total arsenic level of 60 parts per billion, including 25 ppb of the much more toxic inorganic arsenic. Those levels are dangerous given a baby’s small size and developing bodies, the researchers said. The EPA limit for arsenic in drinking water is 10 ppb.
According to ABC News, Nature’s One Baby’s Only Organic Dairy Toddler Formula and Baby’s Only Organic Soy Toddler Formula both contain organic brown rice syrup as the primary ingredient. In a prepared statement, Nature’s One said that they test the arsenic level in their brown rice syrup through an independent laboratory.
The potential presence of the chemical in infant formula is “particularly worrisome for babies because they are especially vulnerable to arsenic’s toxic effects,” the Dartmouth researchers said.
Brown rice contains more arsenic than white rice because it retains the outer layer that’s removed in the white variety. Organic forms of arsenic can be found naturally in the soil, along with arsenic-based pesticides used before the EPA banned them in 2009. Brian Jackson, the author of the study, noted that rice "takes up more arsenic than all the other grains."
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate arsenic levels in most foods, legislation was recently introduced in the House of Representatives calling on the agency to establish standards for arsenic and lead in fruit juices. A spokesperson for the FDA said there was a possibility that the agency would set an arsenic threshold in rice after they conclude their own tests.
Do you use organic baby formula or give your kids organic snacks? Will this news make you switch back to non-organic?