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Analysis of important issues within the field of Pediatric Gastroenterology: latest research, training, academic and private practice concerns, funding, global health, and other current events.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Arsenic and Rice

There has been an increasing focus on the inorganic arsenic content of rice and the possible health implications of arsenic exposure in infants and children.  As a result, the ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition has recently published recommendations to limit childhood exposure to inorganic arsenic found in rice.  The commentary has been published ahead of print and the link to the full article is included below.

The publication highlights the ambiguity that exists in the regulation of food-based inorganic arsenic exposure.  Various food safety organizations have attempted to set guidelines on food-based inorganic arsenic exposure.  However, inorganic arsenic is considered a first level carcinogen and any exposure may increase one’s risk for various carcinomas and adverse health effects.  Rice has a much higher concentration of inorganic arsenic compared to other grains due to the physiology of rice and the way it is grown in flooded rice paddies.

Special concern exists regarding the exposure of infants and children to inorganic arsenic due to rice exposure.  Rice and rice products are commonly added to infant formula, food, and drinks.  Rice cereal is often the first and most common infant fortified cereal used due to its wide availability and low allergenic potential.  Rice cereal is often used as a thickening agent for infants with oropharyngeal dysphagia and may also be used as a therapeutic strategy to thicken formula in infants with gastroesophageal reflux.  In infants and children who avoid dietary gluten, rice intake and inorganic arsenic exposure can be much higher than those who do not avoid gluten within their diet.

The ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition concludes that inorganic arsenic intake in infancy and childhood should be as low as possible.  A variety of grains should be used when possible, and rice with the lowest inorganic arsenic content should be used for infant and childhood products.  Rice drinks should not be used in infants and children, and the risks of rice protein based infant formulas should be weighed when considering these products.

For additional information, please refer to the full publication via the link provided below.  The press release from Wolters Kluwer Health is also included below.


Arsenic in Rice - A Cause for Concern. A Comment by the ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition

Wolters Kluwer Health: Experts Voice Concerns Over Arsenic in Rice