THURSDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- A sweetener used in many organic foods may be a hidden source of arsenic, new research suggests.
Researchers at Dartmouth College also note that the sweetener, organic brown rice syrup, is found in some infant formulas. Their report appears in the Feb. 16 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.
Arsenic is a natural element that can contaminate groundwater. As the Dartmouth team explained, rice may be particularly prone to contamination because it pulls in arsenic from soil. There are no federal limits currently set for arsenic levels in food.
Study author Dr. Brian Jackson, director of the Trace Element Analysis Core Facility at Dartmouth, set out to determine the concentrations of arsenic in commercial food products containing organic brown rice syrup, including infant formula, cereal/energy bars and high-energy foods used by athletes. Jackson and his colleagues bought commercial food products containing organic brown rice syrup and compared them with similar products that did not have rice syrup in them.
In all, 17 infant formulas, 29 cereal bars and three energy shots were all purchased from local stores in the Hanover, N.H., area.
Of the 17 infant milk formulas tested, two had listed organic brown rice syrup as the primary ingredient. These two formulas, one dairy-based and one soy-based, had arsenic levels that were more than 20 times greater than the other formulas, the researchers found.
One of the infant formulas had a total arsenic concentration that was six times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's safe drinking water limit of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for total arsenic. The amount of inorganic arsenic, the most toxic form, averaged 8.6 parts ppb for the dairy-based formula and 21.4 ppb for the soy formula, the study said.
Cereal bars and high-energy foods using organic brown rice syrup
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