Avoiding Rice-Based Cadmium and Inorganic Arsenic in Infant Diets Through Selection of Products Low in Concentration of These Contaminants

Zhengyu Shi, Manus Carey, Emily Davidson, Caroline Meharg, Andrew A. Meharg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
92 Downloads (Pure)


Cadmium in the diet is of concern as it is a renal toxicant and a carcinogen, with a half-life in the body measured in decades. Inorganic arsenic is a chronic carcinogen. For many subpopulations, rice and rice products may be the dominate source of cadmium and inorganic arsenic. In particular, rice porridge, cereal and cake are widely used to feed infants (children < 4.5 years old). In the EU standards for cadmium infant foods in general has been set at 40 μg/kg w.wt., and for inorganic arsenic in rice-based infant foods the standard is 100 μg/kg w.wt. Here we report cadmium and inorganic arsenic concentrations in rice products marketed for infants, and rice containing products that infants may eat but that are not specifically designated for infants. It was found that while rice-based infant foods conformed to the standards, their non-infant food (generic) analogues did not. Non-infant rice crackers and puffed rice cereals, in particular, had concentrations above these standards for both cadmium and inorganic arsenic. Polished pure rice grain purchased in the UK, but sourced from different countries, was also problematic. Basmati, Italian, Spanish and Thai rice, either exceeded one or the other of the cadmium and inorganic arsenic safety thresholds for infants, or both. Egyptian rice grain was particularly low for both toxins. Therefore, if those responsible for infants want to lower exposure to cadmium and inorganic arsenic, they should stick to foods specifically labeled for infants, or carefully source low cadmium and inorganic arsenic rice-based products that are not specifically labeled as being for infant consumption, or minimize exposure to rice-based foods.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExposure and Health
Early online date19 Aug 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 19 Aug 2020


  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Exposure
  • Infants
  • Rice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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