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 Post subject: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:31 pm 
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Semen Strong
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Do you think that the high levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula are naturally occurring?

It looks as though the elevated levels are only in organic formula based on brown rice syrup, and I am wondering if this is similar to the Dr Oz brouhaha over organic apple juice, which was also found to contain naturally occurring arsenic, which was not considered problematic.

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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:34 pm 
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The Today article that is linked in the blog said that the majority of the arsenic is the inorganic type (the more problematic). How annoying, though, that none of the brands tested are identified so that consumers could make informed decisions.

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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:57 pm 
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I just checked the Earth's Best organic soy formula and it doesn't have the offending ingredient.


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:02 pm 
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That is interesting. Does EB use HFC or another sweetner, that isn't brown rice syrup?
http://todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com/ ... by-formula

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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:22 pm 
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It uses corn syrup solids. You're sort of better off not reading formula packages - it's made entirely of junky sounding stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:38 am 
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When my local health centre found out we were vegan, they gave me a photocopied pamphlet saying not to give kids rice drinks because of the high-arsenic levels. I wasn't going to give them rice drinks anyway, though (they seem way to watery/low-calorie for a young baby). How ironic that everyone is always pushing rice cereal, though. :/

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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:00 am 
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I don't know anything about formula specifically, but what he's considering "high" is an arsenic level twice what is allowed in drinking water. These levels are generally set many times lower than what is known to do any harm. I would be surprised if these "high" amounts caused any problems.


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:21 am 
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The problem though is that if a baby is consuming a lot of formula, the relatively small amounts of arsenic would add up. I liked this NPR article on the issue. That article stated that one of the formulas had six times the amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water. The federal limit for water is 10 ppb, so the formula would have approximately 60 ppb, I guess. That's still a lot less than those cereal bars mentioned (which had over 100 ppb in some cases), but most people don't eat multiple cereal bars every day. Lots of babies and toddlers drink several cups of formula every day.

While the US doesn't have a standard for how much arsenic is allowed food, the UK and Australia have set their limit at 1000 ppb (or 1 ppm, source), so all the foods mentioned are under that limit, interestingly.


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:26 am 
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And I gotta say, I find this really upsetting. I try to feed my kid organic food whenever I can, and I know that's not always enough, but I would have liked to have thought that there wouldn't be high levels of heavy metals in organic foods.


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:51 pm 
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yep almost everyone I've read commenting on this elsewhere is convinced its that Baby's Only stuff because its really the only stuff out there that markets itself as "toddler" formula even though they claim its suitable for infants. Their soy formula is the closest to vegan we could get that was organic and Dahlia drank it for about a year. But Baby's Only's site says they test each batch of brown rice syrup. I hope to avoid formula this time around but oooof.
Ugh I don't know. Like our pediatrician told us when we were talking about using that formula since its organic vs. using something that actually says "infant" formula, "I'm pretty sure ALL of that stuff is toxic." Way to make a non-breastfeeding mom feel good, guy!


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:06 pm 
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Audrey wrote:
Like our pediatrician told us when we were talking about using that formula since its organic vs. using something that actually says "infant" formula, "I'm pretty sure ALL of that stuff is toxic." Way to make a non-breastfeeding mom feel good, guy!


Wow! That's awful!

Our pediatrician didn't seem to care one way or the other about our breastfeeding or not (which was frustrating, because I was trying to get breastfeeding support at the time).


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:15 pm 
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I don't know a lot about this, but the thing that bothers me is the news coverage keeps saying, "you think organic is healthier." The arsenic doesn't have to do with organic, it's the rice... organic or conventional. Right?

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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:00 am 
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kdub wrote:
I don't know a lot about this, but the thing that bothers me is the news coverage keeps saying, "you think organic is healthier." The arsenic doesn't have to do with organic, it's the rice... organic or conventional. Right?

That's what I thought.

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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:16 pm 
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kdub wrote:
I don't know a lot about this, but the thing that bothers me is the news coverage keeps saying, "you think organic is healthier." The arsenic doesn't have to do with organic, it's the rice... organic or conventional. Right?

Some pesticides use arsenic. Doing a quick google search on this, in 2009, nearly 500 lbs of an organo-arsenic pesticide (MSMA, Monosodium Methane Arsenate) was applied to almonds fields in California (source). I don't find any mention of this pesticide being banned, it's probably still being used.

So, yeah, I would have hoped that eating organic foods would minimize my exposure to arsenic, but I guess it's not that simple!


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:21 pm 
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Super. We use baby's only soy formula at mealtimes, because I was worried about iron. Fortunately or unfortunately, it hasn't been a big hit. He drinks probably 4 ounces a day. I think the benefits probably outweigh the arsenic.


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:11 pm 
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I thought the NPR piece was really interesting. Its interesting to know that rice naturally just absorbs arsenic because it is similar to silica, but the article skirted the issue about the source of the arsenic. They mention that the arsenic levels in Bengali rice has gone up 10x but don't say what that rise is attributable to, besides polluted water.

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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:33 am 
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Has anyone been following the rice/arsenic debacle? I have been looking around, curious what your thoughts are.


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:06 pm 
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Can this be dumbed down for me so I can know whether or not we need to stop adding rice cereal to an otherwise exclusively breastfed diet? We just started giving Maddux some organic rice cereal (can't remember the brand, it was the organic one, or gerber at target, I couldn't recognize any ingredients on the gerber one so I went with the organic brand) and he's getting used to it after his third trial yesterday, but now I'm wondering if moving him to eating this at least part of the time is now going to be a bad thing based on the inorganic arsenic thing.

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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:15 pm 
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alden, I doubt it's really an issue, BUT white rice in general is not terribly nutritious and there are other baby cereal choices like oat. They make baby oat cereal which is fortified with iron like rice cereal, but you can also go straight to regular instant oatmeal. I don't know if there is baby wheat cereal, but cream of wheat is perfect baby mush consistency and usually fortified also. There's nothing magical about rice as a first food - it's just bland and very unlikely to be allergenic. Lots of people who do mushy food (rather than starting on table food immediately) start with fruit or vegetable purees instead.


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:50 pm 
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Ariann wrote:
alden, I doubt it's really an issue, BUT white rice in general is not terribly nutritious and there are other baby cereal choices like oat. They make baby oat cereal which is fortified with iron like rice cereal, but you can also go straight to regular instant oatmeal. I don't know if there is baby wheat cereal, but cream of wheat is perfect baby mush consistency and usually fortified also. There's nothing magical about rice as a first food - it's just bland and very unlikely to be allergenic. Lots of people who do mushy food (rather than starting on table food immediately) start with fruit or vegetable purees instead.


Thanks, this is a brown rice cereal (I forgot to clarify that, not that it probably matters that much). I confess I'm really ignorant on all of this, when the pediatrician said she usually has her 4 month olds start on rice cereal I honestly thought she meant something like rice crispies lol. So plain quick oats would in theory serve the same purpose? Our pediatrician said she usually starts the yellow/orange veggie purees around the 6 month mark, is that normal? maybe I should be posting these questions in a different thread....

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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:52 pm 
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The recommendations I'm reading say that infants and pregnant women shouldn't make rice products a daily staple. It's also recommended that if you cook rice, double the water and drain the excess after cooking to reduce arsenic levels. FWIW, I'm following the news on more environmental/social justice sites like Grist or Civil Eats, so the level of concern may be different than other news outlets.

That said, it's probably best to not freak out. :) I'm keeping our Happy Baby puffs, since Sven doesn't eat enough of them that I think it's a huge deal. And I hate the idea of switching from local Texas-grown rice to Asian rice.


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:53 pm 
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Alden, what we did with my older daughter is grind up old-fashioned oats in a blender, then cook with water - I think that would serve the same purpose. I've heard people like to start with the yellow/orange veggies first too, I think we did sweet potatoes pretty soon after she started being ok with rice and oats.

ETA: the yellow/orange veg are specifically supposed to be good for spleen health, which helps with digestive development...


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:00 pm 
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alden wrote:
Ariann wrote:
alden, I doubt it's really an issue, BUT white rice in general is not terribly nutritious and there are other baby cereal choices like oat. They make baby oat cereal which is fortified with iron like rice cereal, but you can also go straight to regular instant oatmeal. I don't know if there is baby wheat cereal, but cream of wheat is perfect baby mush consistency and usually fortified also. There's nothing magical about rice as a first food - it's just bland and very unlikely to be allergenic. Lots of people who do mushy food (rather than starting on table food immediately) start with fruit or vegetable purees instead.


Thanks, this is a brown rice cereal (I forgot to clarify that, not that it probably matters that much). I confess I'm really ignorant on all of this, when the pediatrician said she usually has her 4 month olds start on rice cereal I honestly thought she meant something like rice crispies lol. So plain quick oats would in theory serve the same purpose? Our pediatrician said she usually starts the yellow/orange veggie purees around the 6 month mark, is that normal? maybe I should be posting these questions in a different thread....


Your pediatrician is giving advice that is not supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics. If at all possible, babies should be exclusively breastfed (or formula fed) for 6 months. At 6 months babies can be started on a pretty wide variety of foods (see the baby-led weaning thread), but "traditionally" they're started on some kind of iron-fortified baby cereal (rice or oat) and/or fruit or vegetable purees. Unless your baby is crazy about rice cereal or has a growth problem, I would not bother giving any cereal before six months.

Plain quick oats are fine, the only problem is that they're not fortified with iron - so you'll have to decide if that's important to you. We started Malka on Cascadian Organics O's pretty soon after she started solids and those are fortified, so we didn't bother with a fortified mush cereal (she still eats very little cereal and when she eats it, it's quick oats).


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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:21 pm 
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I found this articlehelpful for breaking down the theory behind the higher levels of arsenic in organic brown rice: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott ... ic-my-rice We don't eat a ton of rice and don't give the baby rice cereal so for us it's somewhat of a non-issue.

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 Post subject: Re: High levels of arsenic found in organic baby formula
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:08 pm 
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Very interesting article MomMeTrois. It seems many ecological ailments come from massive chicken farming. When I lived in West Virginia they discovered that massive fish kills were being caused by chicken litter run off into the rivers - not only was the high nitrogen a problem but also there were inorganic compounds (ie chemicals) that were affecting the fertility of local frogs and fish from this. So sad.


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