Study by Queen’s University Belfast finds 50% of baby rice products contain illegal level of inorganic arsenic.
Almost three-quarters of rice cakes and other rice-based foods aimed at babies and young children contain dangerously high levels of arsenic, which has been linked to health problems including cancer.
The findings raise doubts about the effectiveness of EU rules brought in only last year to reduce the amount of the toxic chemical, which can impair a baby’s physical and mental development.
Dangerous levels of inorganic arsenic are also often found in babies who have been reared on formula milks, especially non-dairy versions, according to the research by experts at Queen’s University Belfast.
“This research has shown direct evidence that babies are exposed to illegal levels of arsenic despite the EU regulation to specifically address the health challenge,” said Andy Meharg, a professor of plant and soil sciences at Queen’s, who led the research. “Babies are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of arsenic, which can prevent healthy development of a baby’s growth, IQ and immune system, to name but a few.
“Products such as rice cakes and rice cereals are common in babies’ diets. This study found that almost three-quarters of baby crackers specifically marketed for children exceeded the maximum amount of arsenic.”