April 28, 2016

FDA Proposes Limit on Arsenic in Infant Rice Cereal

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently proposed a limit on the amount of inorganic arsenic permissible in infant rice cereal. Additionally, the agency recommended that (1) parents vary the starter cereals they provide their toddlers and (2) pregnant women eat a variety of grains. As noted in the New York Times, “as rice plants grow, the grain tends to absorb more arsenic than other crops.”

The FDA’s proposed limit of 100 parts per billion for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal mirrors the limit currently in place in Europe on such arsenic in rice.

According to the FDA, the proposed limit is based on a 2016 agency risk assessment, which found that “inorganic arsenic exposure in infants and pregnant women can result in a child’s decreased performance on certain developmental tests that measure learning . . . .” The agency also noted that, of 76 rice cereals sampled from retail stores, only 47% had arsenic levels that complied with the proposed limit.

The FDA will accept public comments for 90 days before finalizing the proposed guidelines.

For more information, see the full FDA risk assessment and the agency’s press release on the proposed rule.