The FDA is offering formal guidance on the amount of inorganic arsenic allowed in infant rice cereal.
Exposure to inorganic arsenic has been associated with neurodevelopmental effects, according to the Food and Drug Administration, including lung and bladder cancer risk. Arsenic occurs naturally in the soil, and rice has been shown to absorb a small amount during the growing process.
The new guidance identifies a level of at or below 100 micrograms per kilogram and is based on draft guidance from 2016. The guidance is recommended, but not legally enforceable.
“It is important to note that the agency’s data show that most products on the market are already below this level and that parents and caregivers should know that a well-balanced diet also includes a variety of grains like oats and barley,” said a statement from Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
According to the FDA, results from testing in 2018 showed 76 percent of samples were at or below the 100 ppb level, compared to 47 percent of samples tested in 2014 and 36 percent of samples tested between 2011-2013.
The FDA attributes the drop in inorganic arsenic presence to changes manufacturers are making in sourcing rice and testing their ingredients.