Arsenic Organic Baby Food Cereal Bars

February 17, 2012 by staff 

Arsenic Organic Baby Food Cereal Bars, Next time you pick up an organic cereal bar or buy infant formula, you might want to read the label closely. High levels of arsenic, a chemical linked to cancer, chronic diseases and developmental effects, have been found in foods that list organic brown rice syrup as a primary ingredient, according to a new study from Dartmouth University.

Organic brown rice syrup is often used as a substitute for high fructose corn syrup in prepared organic foods. One of the infant formulas tested contained twice the inorganic arsenic allowed in drinking water, according to Environmental Protection Agency standards. One cereal bar contained 12 times the legal limit for drinking water of 10 parts per billion (ppb). High-energy foods tested had 8 to 17 times the limit.

The researchers tested 17 infant formulas, 29 cereal bars and three types of energy shot drinks. Two infant formulas –- one dairy based and the other soy based – listed organic brown rice syrup as their primary ingredient. They both contained arsenic levels 20 times higher than the other formulas made without organic brown rice syrup.

The report, which was published online Thursday in Environmental Health Perspectives, didn’t list specific brands, but the study’s lead author Brian Jackson said a variety of products purchased at local stores in Hanover, N.H., were included in the test.

The researchers tested for both inorganic and organic forms of arsenic, although inorganic arsenic was the main source found in the majority of the products. The two types of arsenic refer to the chemistry of the compound and are not connected to pesticide use. Current research has linked inorganic arsenic to various cancers. Experts are split over whether there are risks from organic arsenic.

When it comes to the energy shots and cereal bars, “I don’t think there’s a real immediate danger,” said Jackson, a research associate professor. “The only comparison is drinking water and the risk factors are based on lifetime exposure.”

Infant formulas with high arsenic levels are more of a concern. “It’s probably not a good thing for an infant to be exposed to those levels of arsenic,” Jackson said. “We don’t know the effects of long-term exposure.”

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