There has been an increasing realisation that young infants are exposed to elevated concentrations of the carcinogen inorganic arsenic, relative to adults. This is because many infant food products are rice based, and rice is ~10-fold elevated in inorganic arsenic compared to most other foods. The European Commission (EC) has acted on this concern setting stricter standards for infants, 100 μg of inorganic arsenic per kg of food (100 μg/kg), as compared to adults (200 μg/kg), for rice based foods, a law that was brought into place in 1st January 2016. Here we investigate how this law has impacted on inorganic arsenic in baby food products in the UK market, and compare the findings to previous baby food surveys taken before and just after the law came into place. We find that for a wide range of UK infant products that the new regulations are being adhered to, with all samples surveyed, being under 100 μg/kg inorganic arsenic. The prevalence of pure rice products had decreased in the UK, and there appears to be careful sourcing of the rice used in these products to ensure conformity with regulations. There has been an increased presence of mixed cereal products, with rice and maize as the main ingredient, appearing on the UK market, with varying rice contents for infant porridges, cakes and mueslis, with the latter being a relatively innovative product for infant foods. There was a highly significant correlation (P<0.0001) between rice content and inorganic arsenic concentration across all infant foods. When UK infant rice cakes, breakfast cereals and porridges were compare to their general, i.e. not labelled specifically for being for infant consumption, equivalent it was found that the adult foods generally exceeded the 100 μg/kg inorganic arsenic standard for infant foods. Thus, infants should not be given rice products not specifically labelled as being for them if a lower inorganic arsenic diet is to be maintained.
- Journal Article