First we were worried about arsenic in our apple juice. Then we learned it was also in our rice. Now a new study has found the inorganic version of the element — which the Environmental Protection Agency considers poisonous to humans — in infant formula and cereal bars.
According to research conducted at Dartmouth College, some foods that use organic brown rice syrup as a sweetener, including infant formula and cereal bars, contain detectable levels of inorganic arsenic, the kind that is carcinogenic to humans.
The study, which was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Heath Perspectives, found that the arsenic level in at least one type of infant formula was six times the federal limit of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for total arsenic in bottled or drinking water. And that's a level set for adults; you can imagine that this amount of arsenic is even more frightening considering that it is being ingested by a baby.
The study also found that 22 of 29 cereal bars or energy bars tested listed organic brown rice syrup, rice flour, rice grain or rice flakes among the top five ingredients. The seven bars that did not include any of these ingredients also had the lowest level of total arsenic, ranging from 8 to 27 ppb. The bars that contained syrup or other forms of rice ranged from 23 to 128 ppb.
Several “energy shots” products — the kind used by endurance athletes — were also tested, and researchers found that one of the three gel-like blocks contained 84 ppb of total arsenic, while the other two contained 171 ppb.
Time to check those labels, folks.