Beech-Nut Nutrition Stops Selling Infant Rice Cereal Due to High Arsenic Levels
Routine sampling revealed that the rice cereal contained arsenic levels that exceed limits set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
On June 8, Beech-Nut Nutrition announced a voluntary recall of its infant rice cereal, which they will no longer be selling. The product contains arsenic levels that exceed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limit of 100 parts per billion.
While inorganic arsenic naturally occurs in the environment, high levels have been linked to autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and various health hazards. That's why the FDA set a guidance level for the heavy metal.
"This recall is a result of a routine sampling program by the State of Alaska which found that samples from this production lot of Beech-Nut Stage 1, Single Grain Rice Cereal tested above the guidance level for naturally occurring, inorganic arsenic set by the FDA in August 2020, even though the rice flour used had been tested and confirmed as being below the FDA guidance level for inorganic arsenic," according to the Beech-Nut website.
The recalled item (Beech-Nut Stage 1, Single Grain Rice Cereal) has a UPC Code number 52200034705 and an expiration date of May 1, 2022. Product codes are 103470XXXX and 093470XXXX; these can be found at the bottom of the canister. Other Beech-Nut products aren't affected.
And whole no illnesses have been reported, Beech-Nut has decided to stop making their single grain rice cereal. "Beech-Nut is concerned about the ability to consistently obtain rice flour well-below the FDA guidance level and Beech-Nut specifications for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic," according to a statement by the FDA.
Heavy Metal Contamination in Baby Food
Heavy metals like arsenic have a history of contamination in baby food. Indeed, a February 2021 report from the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Committee on Oversight found high levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in some baby food products-including those by Beech-Nut. Prior investigations (like ones in 2017 by Clean Label Project and 2019 by Healthy Babies Bright Futures) also made the same scary discoveries.
These findings led the FDA to announce in March 2021 that all baby food manufacturers must consider toxic chemicals during testing. Before that, in August 2020, the FDA finalized the inorganic arsenic limit of 100 parts per billion; the limit was first proposed in 2016.
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Toxic metals impact neurodevelopment, and they've been associated with autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Inorganic arsenic exposure may also affect IQ, according to Consumer Reports. Babies are particularly sensitive to the effects of heavy metals, thanks to their immature brains and organ systems.
Unfortunately, the risk of heavy metals is long-lasting and irreversible. They can remain in the body for years, where they accumulate in internal organs like the kidneys. "Regularly consuming even small amounts over a long period of time may raise the risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancer; cognitive and reproductive problems; and type 2 diabetes, among other conditions," according to Consumer Reports.
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