What to Read Next

Arsenic Found in Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Foods, Baby Formulas

Lylah M. Alphonse
Shine from Yahoo! Canada
February 16, 2012
Some organic baby formulas made with brown rice syrup have been found to have high levels of arsenic, researchers say.
Some organic baby formulas made with brown rice syrup have been found to have high levels of arsenic, researchers say.

A sweetener used in powdered baby formula and some organic and gluten-free foods may contain dangerously high levels of arsenic, researchers reported today.



Environmental chemist Brian P. Jackson, who is the director of the Trace Element Analysis Core Facility at Dartmouth University, said that his team found organic baby formula whose main ingredient was brown   rice syrup had arsenic levels six times higher than what the EPA considers safe for drinking water. According to the study, which was published Thursday in the journal "Environmental Health Perspectives," the researchers also found high arsenic levels in some organic foods sweetened with brown rice syrup, including cereal bars, energy bars, and gel energy "shots" that athletes slurp down after working out.



"The baby formula findings are concerning," Jackson said. The risk of arsenic poisoning from eating a cereal bar or an energy shot once in a while are low, he pointed out, but for babies and for people who are on gluten-free diets, arsenic poisoning could be a concern.



"All we can fall back on is what we know about exposure through drinking water," Jackson said. "Moms should know that these rice-based formulas may contain arsenic and should limit exposure. Look at the ingredients when you purchase formula."


Samples for the study -- 17 kinds of baby formula, 29 cereal bars, and three energy shots -- had been  purchased from grocery stores in the Hanover, N.H., area. The report did not say which brands were tested.



Organic arsenic is found naturally in the soil, but a more dangerous kind of the chemical, known as inorganic arsenic, was widely used in pesticides for years before the EPA banned it in 2009. Inorganic arsenic has been linked to lung, bladder, and liver cancer, and exposure to arsenic can affect brain function over time.



Certain crops absorb more arsenic than others. Rice "takes up more arsenic than all the other grains," Jackson says, and brown rice is higher in arsenic than white rice. (When white rice is processed, the outer hull of the grain is removed; though arsenic is found inside the grain itself, inorganic arsenic is usually contained in the outer layer.)



Baby formulas made with rice starch had very low levels of arsenic, but ones made with brown rice syrup were high. The U.S. currently does not regulate the amount of arsenic in food, though after arsenic was found in some brands of apple juice the FDA set a "level of concern" of 23 parts per billion for fruit juices. The EPA standard for arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion.



Brown rice syrup is frequently used as a "healthy" alternative to high-fructose corn syrup and can be found in foods that consumers don't think of as rice-based and in products that are touted as "healthy," "all natural," and "organic."



"Even if you were an educated consumer, some products might just creep under the radar," Jackson told ABC News.



Still, some dietitians warned consumers to take Jackson's study with a grain of salt.



"I would encourage consumers to not worry about this study, but to use it as a reminder that foods that grow in soil are growing with a wide variety of chemicals, both those found naturally in the soil and those that may be there from use of chemicals to foster growth," Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, told HealthDay News. "Whether organic foods contain more arsenic, or other minerals, than conventional foods is hard to estimate, but this study does remind us that organic is not necessarily equal with healthier/better for you/safe from harm."



More from Shine on Yahoo! Canada

Apps to keep the whole family healthy

How children of celebrities struggle with grief

Spanking linked to more aggression in kids

Consolidate your Student Loans by Refinancing

Refinance your student loans to a lower rate with SoFi. Find out how much you can save!

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Military Mortgage Rates In 2016

Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military - Takes 1 Min!

Pay off your high interest credit cards and save

Borrow up to $35,000, with rates as low as 5.99% APR. Consolidate credit card debt and save with a cash loan. Compare rates and save at LendingTree.

This $625 Intro Bonus Is Insane

A leading credit card issuer just raised its intro bonus to an industry-leading $500 cash or $625 in travel. And no annual fee the first year.

Bad News For Insurance, Great News For Virginia

Virginia drivers, with cars and good driving records are learning that they may qualify for lower car insurance rates. Do you qualify?

Novant Health E-Visits

Have the Doctor at your fingertips. Visit novanthealth.com/evisit.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of 2016

Banks are offering 0% APR for up to 15 months right now. Don't pay interest on your purchases and transfer a balance today. Apply securely here.

Walden University - Master's and Doctoral Degrees

Learn more about earning your degree from Walden University. Study online and further your career. Classes start soon. Request free information!

Attn Home Owners Who Never Miss a Payment.

Home Owners who have not missed a payment in 3 years or more need to read this. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home there is a solution.

7 Cards You Can't Ignore If You Have Great Credit

Banks are offering insane credit card offers to people with great credit. Take advantage of a $625 intro bonus, 21 month 0% APR and 6% cash back.

Starwood Credit Card

Earn 25,000 Bonus Starpoints®! Use toward Award Nights or Flights.

Read This Before You Buy Medigap Plan F

Plan F is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan, but there's another Medigap option you should consider.

Buying Medicare Supplement Plan F? Read This First

Learn why Medicare Supplement Plan F might not be your best plan option.