WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 1, 2016) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced steps aimed at reducing inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal. The FDA released a draft guidance to industry that proposes an action level, or limit, of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal.
Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., executive director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety & Sustainability Center, made the following statement:
“While Consumer Reports is pleased to see that the FDA has finally proposed a limit on arsenic in infant rice cereal, and it is close to the level we recommended more than three years ago, we remain concerned that so many other rice-based products consumed by children and adults remain without any standards at all. This is particularly true of children’s ready-to-eat cereals. We believe the FDA can act swiftly to protect public health and set levels on these products based on the risk the agency has acknowledged in its announcement today, and we intend to continue to push them on behalf of consumers to do so. In the meantime, we continue to advise that infants and children diversify their diets and focus on alternatives to rice.”
Consumer Reports first identified the risk of arsenic in the food supply in 2011 when it reported on the high levels of the toxin in apple and grape juice. It called for the agency to take action and the FDA responded in 2013 by proposing a threshold. The organization published on the risks of arsenic in rice in 2012 and 2014, conducted extensive risk assessments, and recommended limits on rice and rice-based products. Specifically, Consumer Reports called for a limit of 90 ppb for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal as compared to the government’s proposed limit of 100 ppb. The organization will be reviewing the FDA’s risk assessment on other rice-based products and submitting comments.
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