Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a new limit, or
action level, for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereals of 100 parts per
billion, which is consistent with levels recently set by the European
Commission. The FDA’s announcement is based on its assessment of a large body
of scientific information, and seeks to reduce infant exposure to inorganic
arsenic. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports the proposed new
action level and offers resources for both parents and pediatricians on the
issue, and will be commenting in more detail on the draft guidance from FDA.
While this guidance is still in draft phase, AAP encourages manufacturers to
act without delay to meet the new action level.
welcomes the steps FDA took today to limit the amount of inorganic arsenic in
infant rice cereal, which is commonly used by parents to feed young infants,”
said AAP president Benard P. Dreyer, MD, FAAP. “To reduce the amount of arsenic
exposure, it is important all children eat a varied diet, including a variety
of infant cereals. The AAP encourages parents to speak with their pediatrician
about their children’s nutrition. Pediatricians can work with parents to ensure
they make good choices and informed decisions about their child’s diet.”
present in two forms: organic and inorganic. Inorganic is considered to be more
toxic than organic arsenic and is a known carcinogen. Rice has higher levels of
inorganic arsenic than other foods. As rice plants grow, they tend to absorb
arsenic more readily than other food crops. FDA’s analysis found that
pregnancy, infancy and early childhood are periods of greater susceptibility to
adverse health and developmental effects from exposure to inorganic arsenic.
for parents to introduce as first foods besides rice cereal include oat, barley
and multigrain cereals, all of which have lower arsenic levels than rice
cereal. The AAP continues to recommend that parents and caregivers feed babies
iron-fortified cereals to be sure she or he receives enough of this important
recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about six months, followed
by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced. At around six
months, infant cereals can be gradually introduced. Rice cereal fortified with
iron is a good source of nutrients, but it shouldn’t be the only source, and
does not need to be the first source,” said Dr. Dreyer.
The American Academy of
Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric
medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the
health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young
adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org
and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.