While many people these days are avoiding high fructose corn syrup by reading labels and shopping wisely, they may be unknowingly ingesting large amounts of arsenic instead. A study conducted by researchers at Dartmouth College reveals the unsettling fact that many foods labelled “organic” actually contain the deadly poison. The guilty ingredient in these organic foods is rice, specifically organic brown rice syrup.
In the Darmouth study researchers examined foods containing the organic brown rice syrup in comparison to foods that did not have the syrup as an ingredient. They examined 17 infant formulas, 29 cereal bars, and 3 gel energy shots.
- One infant formula contained six times the EPA’s safe drinking water limit for arsenic.
- The two infant forumulas tested that contained organic brown rice syrup had more than 20 times the arsenic content of formulas not containing the syrup.
- Cereal bars containing organic brown rice syrup had more arsenic than foods not made with the syrup.
Researchers in this study looked at two baby formulas that listed organic brown rice syrup as an ingredient – one was dairy-based and one was soy-based. In particular they examined one type of arsenic alone – inorganic arsenic, considered to be the most deadly. The dairy-based baby formula contained 8.6 parts per billion (ppb) of inorganic arsenic. The soy-based formula contained 21.4 ppb.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists the U.S. drinking water limit at 10 ppb of arsenic. This limit was set based on the size of a typical adult, not a small baby. That means when measuring only one type of arsenic, both rice-containing baby formulas contained far too much arsenic to be acceptable.
Researchers then went on to test 29 different cereal bars, 22 of which had a rice product – organic brown rice syrup, rice flour, rice grain, or rice flakes – in the first five ingredients. Cereal bars containing a rice ingredient revealed total arsenic levels anywhere from 23-128 ppb.
The scientists also tested three gel energy shots containing rice products. The levels of arsenic in those products ranged from 84-171 ppb.
As a result of this study, researchers are warning people to beware of products containing rice products and calling for the government to issue regulatory limits on the arsenic content in food.