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Foodwatch: Baby food made from rice is often contaminated with carcinogenic arsenic
Again and again, experts point out a possible health hazard from arsenic in food. The carcinogenic substance is mainly found in rice products. The consumer organization Foodwatch has also found in a recent study that rice flakes and rice waffles for babies are often excessively contaminated with arsenic.
Arsenic in food
Health experts have been warning of arsenic in our food for years. The dangerous substance has already been found in German beer. Above all, rice and rice products often contain a lot of arsenic. This is also shown by a new study by Foodwatch. In a laboratory test of rice flakes and rice wafers for babies, the consumer organization detected carcinogenic arsenic in all the samples examined.
Inorganic arsenic was found in all the products examined
Foodwatch has tested 18 rice products for babies from Alnatura, Bebivita, dm, Hipp, Holle, Rossmann and Sunval.
In all of the samples examined, the five rice flake products for the preparation of baby food and 13 rice waffles, which are marketed for babies “from the 8th month”, contained inorganic arsenic.
As the consumer organization wrote in a message, some were significantly more stressed than others:
For example, a sample of the "organic baby porridge rice flakes" from the manufacturer Holle contained almost four times as much arsenic as the "Sun Baby organic rice porridge" from Sunval.
The “Hipp Apple Rice Waffles” were almost three times as heavy as the “Apple Mango Rice Waffles” from the Hipp subsidiary Bebivita.
All test results can be found here.
Stress cannot be avoided entirely
Although arsenic pollution cannot be completely avoided with rice, the clear differences show, according to Foodwatch, that it is up to the manufacturers to minimize the pollution.
"Babies and toddlers have to be protected as well as possible from carcinogenic substances such as inorganic arsenic," says Johannes Heeg from Foodwatch.
“It is the responsibility of baby food manufacturers to reduce arsenic levels to an unavoidable minimum. It is unacceptable that some products contain three to four times as much arsenic as others. ”
Health risks of arsenic
As Foodwatch explains in a background paper, inorganic arsenic is carcinogenic.
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) also explains: "A chronic intake of small amounts of inorganic arsenic compounds over a longer period of time can lead to skin changes, vascular and nerve damage, as well as promote cardiovascular diseases and have reproductive toxicity (harmful to the fruit)."
According to health experts, mild arsenic poisoning can also lead to symptoms such as cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and also kidney failure in adults. It is even more dangerous for children.
Since arsenic cannot be completely avoided in rice, the BfR is of the opinion that manufacturers should keep the burden as low as possible.
The institute recommends that parents only feed rice food such as rice cakes or porridge in moderation and alternate with rice-free products. Foodwatch asked the manufacturers to inform them about the BfR's recommended consumption on the packaging.
Rice products in the UK contain less arsenic
The European Union prescribes limit values for inorganic arsenic in rice and certain rice products.
"A maximum of 0.1 mg / kg of inorganic arsenic may be contained in rice intended for the production of food for infants and young children," says the Foodwatch website.
Some of the products examined by the consumer organization were heavier.
"Baby food made from rice is an unnecessary health hazard in Germany," said Professor Andrew Meharg from the Institute for Global Food Safety at Queen's University Belfast, who carried out the test on behalf of Foodwatch.
“Low values are feasible: on the British market, baby rice products have very little arsenic contamination. There is no reason why German manufacturers should not be able to achieve values that are just as low. ”
Arsenic is naturally present in the earth's crust. Arsenic can enter drinking water via groundwater and be absorbed by plants. Rice absorbs a lot of arsenic. (ad)