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Ask the Dietitian: I’m Worried About Heavy Metals in My Little One’s Diet. Should I Stay Away From Rice and Rice Products?

Ask the Dietitian: I’m Worried About Heavy Metals in My Little One’s Diet. Should I Stay Away From Rice and Rice Products?

Posted by Tori Schmitt, MS, RDN, LD on Jun 28th 2021

For many years, there has been concern about arsenic – a heavy metal contaminant – in products made with rice.  News launched earlier in 2021 revealed that not only arsenic, but also other heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and mercury can be found in the foods that you feed your baby. So, let’s talk about whether you should avoid those products for your little one.

The short answer to this question is... it depends. For many reasons (which we’ll explain in detail), we believe the safety of rice products for your baby depends on the source of the rice and the product manufacturer. Let us explain.

Rice and rice products can introduce arsenic.

First things first - it’s true that rice and rice products can contain varying levels of arsenic(1). Because many of your baby’s first foods contain rice – like rice cereal, rice-based puffs, and rice rusk teethers – a child’s level of exposure to rice (and arsenic) can be relatively high. But the answer to this question about avoiding rice products altogether is a lot more nuanced than it may seem. Here’s why:

Heavy metals like arsenic occur naturally in the air, water, and soil used to grow foods. And, because of that, they can end up in ingredients and products that you feed your child. Of course, this is concerning for anyone who wants babies to have a better start – including us at Nature’s One!

At Nature’s One, we go beyond standards for heavy metals in all our products, including those with rice ingredients.

Tackling the problem of heavy metals in foods for babies and toddlers is nothing new for Nature’s One. We recognize that contaminants like heavy metals are concerning, especially when they’re found in baby foods. Since our company was founded in the late 1990s, it has held itself to a higher standard of purity, recognizing that contaminants like heavy metals are concerning, especially within baby foods. Because of this, we have a long track record of testing ingredients - like our organic brown rice syrup and organic rice maltodextrin - to help our food science and quality assurance teams find the purest sources of ingredients around the world. When we can’t find ingredients that test low for heavy metals (like cocoa powder which can introduce aluminum and cadmium levels that exceed our standards) we choose alternative ingredients or even discontinue products if no alternative can be found(2).

Where we can innovate, we do. In March 2012, we introduced an advanced, organic-compliant filtration system that eliminates arsenic levels in organic brown rice syrup to undetectable levels. We use it for every Nature’s One product that includes brown rice syrup, so we can feel confident offering you purer products with rice ingredients, and YOU can feel comfortable feeding a product with rice ingredients to your child!

Nature’s One is an industry leader in purity.

Others recognize our efforts in setting the bar for purity. Nature’s One products hold the Purity Award from the Clean Label Project (awarded because of our product test results from independent, third party labs for heavy metals, pesticide residues and plasticizers). In addition, our purity practices and our new, cutting-edge facility were spotlighted in this recent television story about heavy metals in the baby food industry about how Nature’s One is leading the change for others to follow.

So, should you avoid rice and rice products for your child? Not if they come from a company with your little one’s best interest in mind.

Thanks to our organic compliant filtration process for our organic brown rice syrup, and because of our company’s demonstrated commitment to purity, we are confident in our ability to provide you with a safe, pure, and nutritious product with rice-containing ingredients – products you don’t have to avoid, but rather feel assured in offering to your child.

Click here to learn more about our Pure 10 Pledge and Commitment to Purity.

References:

  1. Jackson BP, Taylor VF, Punshon T, Cottingham KL. Arsenic concentration and speciation in infant formulas and first foods. Pure Appl Chem. 2012;84(2):215-223. doi:10.1351/PAC-CON-11-09-17
  2. Fechner C, Greiner M, Heseker H, Lindtner O. Dietary exposure assessment of aluminium and cadmium from cocoa in relation to cocoa origin. PLoS One. 2019;14(6):e0217990. Published 2019 Jun 5. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0217990