Two reports came out today showing that many popular rice foods are contaminated with arsenic. Arsenic is a known human carcinogen and the EPA assumes that there is no “safe” level of exposure to inorganic arsenic.
The U.S. is the world’s leading user of arsenic. Residues from lead-arsenate pesticides linger in agricultural soil, though their use was banned in the 1980s. Arsenic in food can also come from natural sources, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. It is especially dangerous for small children and pregnant women.
This is the kind of news that makes a parent feel sick. I feed my boys a lot of whole grains, including brown and white rice. I just nursed Sweet William through two bouts of diarrhea by feeding him several meals of banana mash (white rice, a splash of milk, and a banana tossed in the blender). Darling Fergus is allergic to cow’s milk. I’ve begun weaning him on soy milk, but had also considered introducing rice milk. I’m glad I didn’t.
Read the Consumer Reports table of arsenic levels in common foods, including baby cereal and rice milk.
Environmental Working Group offers strategies for reducing your children’s exposure to arsenic, such as buying non-rice baby cereals and offering sweet potatoes and squash as first foods.