A recent study done at Queen’s University (1) in Belfast found high levels of illegal, inorganic arsenic in many baby rice food products. A professor at the university stated, “this research has shown direct evidence that babies are exposed to illegal levels of arsenic despite the EU regulation to specifically address this health challenge. Babies are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of arsenic that can prevent the healthy development of a baby’s growth, IQ and immune system to name but a few.”

Babies require constant care and appropriate nutrients to aid healthy growth, but if you’re feeding them harmful things such as inorganic arsenic, they could cause a range of health problems in the future such as developmental problems, heart disease, diabetes and nervous system damage.

Researchers also found that infants who were formula-fed instead of breastfed had a higher concentration of arsenic, especially those who were fed non-dairy formulas, as they include rice-fortified ingredients. Researchers also found that 50% of baby rice food still contains illegal levels of inorganic arsenic despite the regulation laws. The EU limits levels of arsenic to 0.1mg/kg, whereas researchers found levels of up to 0.15 in the urine of formula-fed babies.

What is Arsenic?

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Arsenic is a naturally occurring element with both metal and nonmetal properties. Arsenic is usually found in the environment, but when it is combined with elements such as oxygen, chlorine, and sulfur, it is referred to as inorganic arsenic (2). According to the FDA (8), there is arsenic in soil, water, and air, and basically, the crops (such as rice crops) absorb the arsenic naturally.

What Does Arsenic Do To The Body?

Inorganic arsenic is hard to detect with human senses — you can’t smell, see or taste it in your food or water. Overexposure to inorganic arsenic is poisonous to the human body. According to the Agency For Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (2), if you swallow inorganic arsenic, you could experience the following symptoms:

  • Stomachaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased production of red and white blood cells (which cause fatigue, abnormal heart rhythm)
  • Patches of dark skin
  • Warts
  • Skin cancer, liver cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer (inorganic arsenic is a human carcinogen)

Alternatives to Rice Cereal


  • Breast milk is ideal over formulas – breast milk is filled with fatty acids, antibodies, nutrients, and protein (3). If you can’t breastfeed, you can try natural and organic baby formulas.
  • Broth – it is easily digestible, and it is a great form of calcium and magnesium (4). You can make your own or buy them pre-made.
  • Mashed bananas and avocado
  • Fresh, steamed vegetables – vegetables have higher nutrient content than grains

You can do a combination of all of the above by mixing broth with vegetables and/or fruits. For optimal results, you can make your own baby food so you know exactly what your baby is consuming.

  1. Queen’s University. (2017, May 05). Queen’s Research Shows Illegal Levels of Arsenic Found in Baby Foods. Retrieved May 10, 2017, from http://www.qub.ac.uk/Connect/News/Allnews/QueensResearchShowsIllegalLevelsofArsenicFoundinBabyFoods.html
  2. Agency For Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. (2015, January 21). Toxic Substances Portal – Arsenic. Retrieved May 10, 2017, from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=18&tid=3
  3. WebMD. (n.d.). Breastfeeding Overview. Retrieved May 10, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/nursing-basics#1
  4. Guide to Healthy Baby Food | Wellness Mama. (2017, April 13). Retrieved May 10, 2017, from https://wellnessmama.com/739/healthy-baby-food/
  5. Natural & Organic Baby Formula Options & Alternatives. (2017, May 8). Retrieved May 10, 2017, from https://wellnessmama.com/53999/organic-baby-formula-options/
  6. How to Make Bone Broth. (2017, May 8). Retrieved May 10, 2017, from https://wellnessmama.com/5888/how-to-make-bone-broth/
  7. Traditional Slow Simmered Organic Bone Broth. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2017, from https://www.bonebroth.com/?ref=21
  8. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Metals – Questions & Answers: Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products. Retrieved May 10, 2017, from https://www.fda.gov/food/foodborneillnesscontaminants/metals/ucm319948.htm

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