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Rice-Based Products Sold as Baby Foods Found to Contain Illegal Levels of Arsenic

By KM Diaz, | May 05, 2017

Three-quarters of rice-based products sold as baby foods contain illegal levels of arsenic. (YouTube)

Three-quarters of rice-based products sold as baby foods contain illegal levels of arsenic. (YouTube)

Scientists have warned parents to avoid giving rice to young children after a new study revealed that three-quarters of rice-based products sold as baby foods contain illegal levels of arsenic.

In January 2016, the European Union approved a maximum level of arsenic in rice to limit the exposure of children to harmful toxins. However, researchers from Queen's University Belfast have found that 32 percent of rice cereals, 61 percent of baby rice, and 80 percent of rice crackers flouted the law after testing 73 different rice-based products from nine different manufacturers and brands from 17 different stores in Belfast.

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These products, which are sold particularly for children, contains about 73 percent levels of arsenic, which exceeds the EU's limit of 0.1 milligrams of arsenic per kg of rice.

Professor Andy Meharg, the lead author of the study, explains that inorganic arsenic contaminates rice and could create a huge impact among young children especially in IQ, immune, and growth development. All of these will be affected depending on the level of arsenic in rice-based products.

Professor Meharg further explained that arsenic is carcinogenic, young children are more likely to be affected by the chemicals and babies have five times higher exposure to inorganic arsenic. Also, parents worried about the gluten intake of their children should consider other alternatives like oat porridge instead of rice porridge.

Mary Fewtrell, a professor of pediatric nutrition at UCL, explained that infants are smaller compared to older child and adults, that's why a high level of inorganic arsenic is more likely found in their body. Parents should be aware of products consumed by their children to monitor the inorganic arsenic level.

Meanwhile, biologists have found the best way to eliminate harmful arsenic. Just soak the rice-based products overnight, and about 80 percent of the toxins will be removed by morning.

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