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EU alarmed over high levels of toxic arsenic in brand-name cereals


(NaturalNews) The European Union (EU) is making great strides to clean up the food supply. One of the toxic elements they are now seeking to limit is arsenic. The most infamous place to find arsenic is in rice products, since rice readily takes up arsenic from the soil and water that its grown in. When EU regulators tested brand-name rice cereals, the results were telling. The general population has been consuming excessive amounts of arsenic in basic brand-name cereals, many of which are adored by kids.

Products like Kellogg's Rice Krispies and Heinz Smooth Baby Rice far exceeded the new EU arsenic limits. In fact, 58 percent of cereals tested exceeded the new arsenic limit for babies and children.

Over half of rice-based cereal for children exceed new EU arsenic limits

Arsenic's toxicity is linked to heart disease, skin, bladder and lung cancers. It doesn't matter if people eat organic rice products or non-organic; either kind could contain high levels of arsenic. It comes down to the quality of water and soil the rice is grown in. Government bodies generally have limited resources to check food products for toxic elements like arsenic, but that is all changing, especially in the European Union. Channel 4 Dispatches tested a slew of rice cereals in Great Britain and found that over half of them contained unhealthy levels of arsenic. The new regulations are set to take hold in summer 2015 as part of a new Food Standards Agency initiative. If products don't meet the new standards, they are to be removed from stores until they test in compliance.

Basmati rice from India was the cleanest in terms of arsenic content

While short-term, low-dose exposure to arsenic is not immediately detrimental, it's the long-term exposure that should have people concerned. To top it off, people in Britain consume on average five times more rice today than they did 40 years ago. In some places in the world, rice is a staple crop, eaten daily.

The new EU arsenic standards promise to keep arsenic levels below 200 parts per billion for adult rice products. When different types of rice were tested from around the world, the results varied, with red rice from France containing the highest levels of arsenic -- 310 ppb. Italian brown rice contained 160 ppb on average, but basmati rice from India was the cleanest, measuring only 40 ppb arsenic.

Organic baby cereals contaminated with high levels of inorganic arsenic, the most dangerous form

The limit for children's rice products is stricter -- not to exceed 100 parts per billion. According to the US FDA, the form of arsenic most detrimental to one's health in the long run is inorganic arsenic. The EU arsenic tests found that Kellogg's Rice Krispies and Kallo Organic Puffed Rice Cereal contain a high concentration of the more dangerous inorganic arsenic. These products were tested several times; each test showed inorganic arsenic exceeding limits by far.

Kallo Foods' Organic Puffed Rice Cereal contained 323 parts of arsenic per billion! Another baby rice product called organic wholegrain baby rice by Organix exceeded standards, reaching levels as high as 268 ppb.

Kellogg's Rice Krispies measured well over the limits set for children too, clocking in at 188 ppb. Baby Organic Rice Cakes by Boots hit 162 ppb while Organic Wholegrain Banana Porridge by Organix peaked at 142 ppb arsenic.

Cleaning up arsenic in the food supply is more important than economics

Some think that the arsenic limits are too strict and could hurt businesses and the economy, but Andrew Meharg, professor of Biological Sciences at Queen's University Belfast, thinks the limits are actually lenient. He said, "The European Union is going to set standards for arsenic levels in baby rice at 100 parts per billion. To my estimation that is far too high. It should be at least half that."

The bottom line should always be about preserving human health and increasing food safety -- not putting extra pennies in the pockets of business owners and their shareholders. Thankfully, groups like the Rice Association in the UK "welcome" the initiative to establish new arsenic limits in rice. The three companies with the highest arsenic levels, Boots, Organix and Kellogg's, also want to take the safety of their products seriously. The balance between preserving big business and protecting consumer health teeters, but looking around today, with cancer rates spiking, it's never been more important to protect consumer health.

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