Bonnie and Steve: An Environmental Health Perspectives study released ahead of print today found high levels of arsenic in brown rice syrup products, including two organic infant formulas. Similar to a study about arsenic found in apple juice, this definitely has the public uneasy.
The study did not released the brand names of the cereals, energy bars, athletic food products, and infant formulas. For our clients: the baby formula we recommend, Baby's Only, states their products do not have detectable arsenic levels: http://www.naturesone.com/pdf/N1_Response_Arsenic_and_Other_Toxins_in_US_Food_Supply.pdf
Hopefully, we can learn more about the brands in question. If you are worried about any products you consume with brown rice syrup, contact the manufacturer and ask them if their brown rice syrup comes form California. If it does, then it should be fine. This was one study was on brown rice syrup, not brown rice. That is a major distinction. Feel free to avoid any products you may consume with brown rice syrup until this is sorted out.
If you are concerned for yourself or your child, you can do a simple serum or hair analysis test to screen for arsenic.
Here's the abstract:
BACKGROUND: Rice can be a major source of inorganic arsenic (Asi) for many sub-populations. Rice products are also used as ingredients in prepared foods, some of which may not be obviously rice-based. Organic brown rice syrup (OBRS) is used as a sweetener in organic food products as an alternative to high fructose corn syrup. We hypothesized that OBRS introduces arsenic into these products.
OBJECTIVE: We determined the concentration and speciation of arsenic (As) in commercially available brown rice syrups, and in products containing OBRS including infant formula, cereal/energy bars, and high energy foods used by endurance athletes.
METHODS: We used ICP-MS and IC-ICP-MS to determine total As (Astotal) concentrations and As speciation in products purchased via the internet or in stores in the Hanover, NH area.
DISCUSSION: We found that OBRS can contain high concentrations of Asi and dimethylarsenate (DMA). An ‘organic’ infant milk formula containing OBRS as the primary ingredient had Astotalconcentrations up to six times the EPA safe drinking water limit. Cereal bars and high energy foods containing OBRS also had higher As concentrations than equivalent products that did not contain OBRS. Inorganic As was the main As species in the majority of food products tested in this study.
CONCLUSIONS: There are currently no US regulations applicable to As in food, but our findings suggest that the OBRS products we evaluated may introduce significant concentrations of Asi to an individual’s diet. Thus, we conclude that there is an urgent need for regulatory limits on As in food.