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Arsenic in Baby Rice?

by Lawrence Tam on March 14, 2013

Look, I’m asian and I was wondering when my 9 month old baby can have some baby rice…. until I stumbled on reports of FREAKING arsenic in them? WTF

Yeah… Baby Rice + Aresnic

A new study by independent consumer product analyst, Consumer Reports, has recently revealed that a good number of rice products – including baby rice and other products for infants – contain arsenic in levels that are more than “forgivable”. The products that tested positive for arsenic presence range from your typical brown rice, white rice, rice breakfast cereals, organic baby rice, and several different rice based products. The sad part about all of this is that arsenic is not regulated in food product; however, there is an existing policy on regulating the presence of arsenic in water. The standard is 10 parts per billion in drinking water.

baby rice

Arsenic is a known carcinogenic toxin (WTF) and studies have shown that it causes lung, skin, and bladder cancer. For babies, the intake of food containing worrisome amounts of this toxin can set them up for health problems in the future. Brain development is hampered if the child is exposed to arsenic intake even from the mother while the child is in the womb. Babies exposed to arsenic in the womb brought about by the mother eating food that contains arsenic will interfere with the child’s brain development and later on, reduce the intelligence of the child as well as become a cause for certain behavioral problems. The same results will be seen if children are exposed to the toxin in the early stages of their infancy through the intake of baby rice, baby rice cereals, or rice milk.

 

Arsenic and Baby Rice Doesn’t Mix

There are two different types of arsenic: inorganic and organic arsenic. In almost every type of food product that Consumer Reports tested, they found arsenic in levels that can’t necessarily be ignored. Inorganic arsenic is a carcinogen and can be found in almost every type of food product. On the other hand, organic arsenic is less toxic than its inorganic counterpart, although this is still something that should not be ignored. Arsenic, however, is something that we can’t eliminate from the environment and is a substance that is naturally occurring. It can be found in air, water, and soil. Scientists, however, cannot yet determine if the substance bio-accumulated, meaning that it build up in the body over time and the effects are seen in the long term, or if the substance can actually be flushed out through normal body processes.

 

So, how does arsenic end up present in rice, anyway? Present farmlands where rice is currently being grown used to contain cotton. In the past, arsenic was put in the soil as a pesticide to control parasites that cling to the cotton. Now, the cotton has been replaced by rice, which is very effective in taking out the traces of arsenic from the soil. In effect, the soil becomes absent of the toxin and concentrates in the rice; it now carries what it cleared out of the soil. That was more than a century ago when arsenic was used as a pesticide in cotton fields. In the present day, consumers end up eating what remained of arsenic ridden pesticides in the past.

 

Baby rice and adult rice products aren’t the only source of arsenic, though. In fact, traces of arsenic have also been found in fruits and vegetables, aside from water. According to the EPA, there are really no “safe” levels of arsenic and they recommend a level of 5 parts per billion in drinking water. Compared to the government’s standard of 10 parts per billion, that is only half the amount. Among the states in the US, only New Jersey followed the EPA’s recommendation and established regulations to do so. Also, many studies suggest that a single serving of some rice products would give an adult almost one and a half times the amount of arsenic that could be ingested from drinking water. These levels are dangerously critical when you start to think about baby rice and baby rice products.

 

So what can we do in order to minimize, if not completely eliminate, arsenic from baby rice and other rice products? Most parents find this discovery extremely unsettling and disturbing, knowing that what we feed our children on a daily basis, especially during the early stages of their infancy, can harbor drastic consequences in the future. The first and most important step in the process is to actually be aware and care about what our diet is like. It is highly beneficial for parents to be well informed about what baby rice products would contain higher levels of arsenic. One remedy that has been suggested is to avoid rice altogether and instead, opt for barley or wheat. This is, of course, not entirely feasible for all families. It would be good to know that for the most part, it has been discovered that white rice coming from the farms of Louisiana, Texas, and Missouri have generally higher levels of arsenic than those produced in other states such as California. Rice from other countries, particularly those coming from Asia, has been found to contain less traces of the toxin. It is then, therefore, recommended that while no remedy has been found for presence of arsenic in these states, parents generally feed baby rice and other infant feeding products that come from California, Asia, or other areas where arsenic treatment of farms isn’t practiced. In most tests, as well, brown rice varieties and products would generally contain higher levels of the toxin than white varieties. This is because brown rice still contains part of the shell or husk, which is able to contain more arsenic. If you cannot do entirely without grains, change up your variety and explore other options.

washing rice

–>>> The image to the right is how my mom taught me how to measure the water to rice mixture

Changing the way you prepare your rice can also prove to be helpful in eliminating most of your food’s arsenic content. Washing raw rice in a ratio of six cups water to one-cup rice may effectively reduce the presence of arsenic by 30 percent. The modern method of cooking rice involves using just the right amount of water in order for it to be completely absorbed by the rice. While this might retain most of the nutritional value of the rice, it does not help in eliminating most of the toxins. Cooking in generous amounts of water and draining the excess may help to reduce the amount of inorganic arsenic in the rice. This is especially effective for baby rice.

If you got babies….. take some time to know what your feeding your baby.

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