In the first few months of a baby’s life it is critical that they get the nutrition they need to grow and develop. Parents usually want to buy their baby the highest quality food to ensure that they get nutrition without potentially harmful additives or chemicals. So when parents see baby food brands that market themselves as particularly healthy—think of brands that advertise as whole grain, organic, not from concentrate, full of necessary vitamins, and so on—they tend to trust those brands as better than the average baby food fare. Unfortunately, even some so-called healthy baby food brands are proving to be more harm than good for a baby’s development.
Arsenic levels in baby food?
A recent controversy over the arsenic levels in some baby foods and formulas have cast a shadow over the industry. In brief, a team of U.S. researchers analyzed the components of a nearly twenty brands of baby formula in addition to some energy drinks and cereal bars. They found that the addition of organic brown rice syrup in one of the organic baby formulas led to an unusually high arsenic level in the product. The organic brown rice syrup typically acts as a sweetening element to make baby foods more palatable. It’s a particularly chilling development given the “healthy” perception of most organic foods.
Scientists explain that arsenic in very very small doses can naturally occur throughout the growing and cultivation process of rice and other grains, but they have yet to pinpoint why organic brown rice syrup should have such high levels of the element. Natural arsenic levels can occur in foods that have been chemically treated, but the rise of it in organic foods is particularly stunning to food analysts. Needless to say, this is something that parents should steer clear of. If consumed on a regular basis, arsenic can severely impede the development of a baby’s vital organs and bodily functions.
How could this happen?
Perhaps the most unsettling part of this story is the fact that there are no U.S. regulations that monitor proper arsenic levels in food. With proper oversight this food scare might have been identified sooner, but as of now the FDA only monitors arsenic levels in water. In essence, this story shows how much more regulation still needs to be done in the American food system, but with baby food in particular. As every parent knows, a baby’s body is much more susceptible to harm from the slightest irregularity in their diet. A sudden change in their everyday food could upset their digestive system, so there’s no telling what negative effects could result from the gradual ingestion of foods with high arsenic levels.
What you can do
For parents, the takeaway point right now is to be wary of organic brown rice syrup in their baby’s foods. You can take the added precaution of checking the ingredients of your baby foodstuffs (something that you should do anyway) before you buy it just to be safe. There’s no way of telling that the dangerous trend extends to all foods containing the ingredient, but it’s better to be safe than sorry for now.
Of course, the vast majority of organic and nonorganic baby foods are complete safe and healthy for consumption for your babies. Parents should just remember to always be on guard and do their research before they buy food for their children.
By-line: Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.
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