Arsenic Levels in Formula Ingredient ‘Worrisome,’ Study Finds
Perhaps the most heated parenting debate involves whether to feed an infant breastmilk or formula, with the former being the preferred method by medical professionals and the World Health Organization due to its unparalleled health benefits for mother and baby and of course, its low cost.
Still, the debate rages on- with nursing still a somewhat marginalized activity, and frequent nursing-related protests cropping up in shopping malls and on Facebook. While everyone is in agreement that “breast is best,” many attempts to promote the practice are somehow seen as judgmental to mothers who opt to rely on formula for a multitude of reasons. But a new study illustrates why the conversation to promote breastfeeding (breastmilk has no moneyed corporation to promote itself via free samples in a hospital, for instance) should be more aggressive, highlighting the risks of formula use.
It seems that an ingredient in several versions of formula, organic brown rice syrup, has been found to sometimes contain levels of arsenic that could be dangerous- “could be,” because there is little oversight or regulation regarding “safe” levels of arsenic in food. But a study published today in the peer-reviewed medical journal Environmental Health Perspectives indicates that two of 17 formulas included in research listed organic brown rice syrup as their primary ingredient, and ”one [contains] a total arsenic concentration level up to six times the U.S. federal limit of 10 parts per billion for drinking water.” The drinking water standard is used due to the lack of standards for arsenic in food.
Earlier this month, legislation was introduced in the House calling on the Food and Drug Administration to take a better look at arsenic content in juice and food, and to establish safe levels so concerns can be more properly weighed. In the meantime, lead author of the study Brian Jackson says:
“In the absence of regulations for levels of arsenic in food, I would certainly advise parents who are concerned about their children’s exposure to arsenic not to feed them formula where brown rice syrup is the main ingredient.”
Do you think formula needs more stringent oversight to prevent ingredients like arsenic from entering the infant food supply?