Should the report that there is arsenic in rice be on your worry list?
So, you opted for rice cakes instead of Oreo cookies for your little one and then last week you hear that arsenic has been found in many rice products!
Wow, as parents sometimes you feel like you just can’t win, and there goes another addition to that darn worry list. Here are the facts, and then we can decide if this stays on the worry list! The facts are that Consumer Reports found measurable amounts of arsenic in 223 samples of rice products like cereals (including baby cereal), crackers, brown and white rice and in both organic and conventional products.
Arsenic is a chemical that is found in soil and water from erosion of arsenic containing rocks, volcanic rocks, mining and smelting ores, and previous or current use of some pesticides. It is believed that consuming certain levels over time will increase an individual’s risk to develop certain cancers. There is no federal limit for arsenic in most foods (really?) and occurs in standard drinking water and fruit juice and other products through absorption of soil and water. That means it could be present in organic and non organic foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics is reminding us that more research and data is needed before any recommendations can be made and the possible risks can really be defined. “It’s important to emphasize that there’s no evidence of harm from arsenic that is naturally present in food, and we don’t know what the levels mean for the consumer. Almost all foods tested contain some arsenic,” said Frank Greer, M.D., FAAP, past chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin.
So what does a parent do??? We have all been exposed to arsenic for many years in many foods. The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics is to offer a wide variety of foods to your children that include other grains like wheat and oats to decrease the exposure from rice. Rice cereal really is not a must as a first food. I have long said that it really does not have much nutritional value and has empty calories except for the iron fortification. It is recommended because it is thought to be the least allergenic, but there has been no proof that this really is beneficial. Other first foods can include foods like avocado, banana, and even red meat which contains the iron that a rice cereal is fortified with. There really is no particular order of food introduction that has been proven to be best or decreases the risk of allergy development.
- Offer a wide variety of foods to your child which includes other grains like wheat and oats.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the use of rice milk for children.
- Rice cereal does not necessarily have to be your child’s first food.
- Parents that would like to be more cautious with serving rice products can decrease the number of rice foods made for the family and offer alternatives. Some suggestions are in this article www.consumerreports.org/cro/index.htm
In my opinion…take this one off your worry list! As my father used to tell me…don’t worry until I tell you to worry, and then worry like heck! (or something similar!) Right now, there is not enough evidence to worry…just offer your child a wide variety of healthy foods and relax!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.