FDA proposes limit for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal.

  • Arsenic is a naturally-occurring element that can be found in water, soil, and air.  Long-term exposures to one type of arsenic — “inorganic arsenic” — have been associated with higher rates of certain health risks, such as cancer and heart disease.  Rice is suspected to be a leading dietary source of inorganic arsenic, both because of its popularity in the diet as a staple food and because the crop has the potential to readily absorb arsenic from the soil or water as it grows.  For the past several years, FDA has been conducting product testing related to inorganic arsenic exposure.
  • On April 1, FDA proposed an action level (or limit) of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal and also provided targeted information to help pregnant women reduce their exposure to inorganic arsenic.  This proposal is the product of:  (1) extensive FDA testing of both rice and non-rice products; (2) a 2016 risk assessment that indicated an association between adverse pregnancy outcomes and neurological effects in early life related to inorganic arsenic exposure; and (3) a feasibility assessment related to reducing inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal.
  • In terms of impact on the industry, FDA testing indicates that the majority of infant rice cereal currently on the market either meets, or is close to, the proposed action level.  From the standpoint of consumer impact, the instant action is targeted at pregnant women and infants; FDA is not advising the general population to change rice consumption patterns at this time.