For Release: September 6, 2013
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 from rice.
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.
Information for parents: