In response to an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration into the arsenic content of rice and rice products, the American
Academy of Pediatrics is offering guidance to families concerned about the
impact of such exposure to their children’s health.
The FDA investigated more than 1,300 samples of rice and
rice products from 30 food categories, including several varieties of plain
rice as well as rice-containing foods and beverages such as rice water, rice
snacks, pastas and ready-to-eat cereals. The FDA found variable quantities of arsenic in the rice and rice products it
tested. Levels varied within food
categories and among food products in the same food category.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents
offer their children a wide variety of foods, including other grains such as
oats, wheat and barley, which will decrease their child’s exposure to arsenic
Parents commonly feed infants rice cereal as a first food,
but other foods are equally acceptable as a first food. Finely chopped meat
provides a source of iron. Cereals made from other grains may be given first,
or vegetable purees. For older children,
the advice is the same: A varied diet will decrease a child’s exposure to
environmental toxins in any one food, while providing a wide variety of nutrients.
Additional research -- including the results of another FDA
study evaluating the risk of consuming arsenic in foods and beverages -- is
needed to provide detailed recommendations about whether and how children and
adults should change what they eat.
Earlier in 2012, similar questions were raised about arsenic
in juice products. It is not necessary to offer children any juice to have a
well-balanced, healthy diet. For years, the AAP has recommended limited intake
of all sweet beverages, including juice.
The AAP will work with the FDA and other federal agencies to
limit the use of arsenic and will participate in discussions about decreasing
arsenic exposure through food and beverages.
Parents who have questions about their child’s nutrition are encouraged to speak with their pediatrician.