The very popular baby food company, Beech-Nut Nutrition, has issued a voluntary recall of one lot of Beech-Nut Stage 1, Single Grain Rice Cereal.
The recall was announced when a routine sampling program run by the State of Alaska found that Beech-Nut Stage 1, Single Grain Rice Cereal tested above guidance level for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 2020.
The specific item, UPC Code #52200034705, has a recall expiration date of May 1, 2022 and product codes: 103470XXXX and 093470XXXX. The expiration date and product codes can be found on the bottom of the cereal canister.
According to CNN, no illnesses related to the Single Grain Rice Cereal product codes have been reported to date, and no other production dates or Beech-Nut products are affected by this recall.
Beech-Nut Taking the Long Term Approach
Beech-Nut has also decided to exit the market for Beech-Nut branded Single Grain Rice Cereal. The company cited concerns over the ability to obtain rice flour below the FDA guidance level and Beech-Nut specifications for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic.
“The safety of infants and children is Beech-Nut’s top priority. We are issuing this voluntary recall, because we learned through routine sampling by the State of Alaska that a limited quantity of Beech-Nut Single Grain Rice Cereal products had levels of naturally-occurring inorganic arsenic above the FDA guidance level, even though the rice flour used to produce these products tested below the FDA guidance level for inorganic arsenic,” says Jason Jacobs, Vice President, Food Safety and Quality (in a company statement?)
The news comes after a congressional panel in February said that major brands of commercial baby food have high levels of toxic heavy metals. The House Oversight Committee said this leaves babies at risk for serious developmental and neurological problems.
“Despite the well-known risks of harm to babies from toxic heavy metals, FDA has not taken adequate steps to decrease their presence in baby foods,” the subcommittee report says. “FDA has not issued thresholds for the vast majority of toxic heavy metals in baby foods and does not require warning labels on any baby food products.”
The FDA began focusing on the use of heavy metals in baby food in response to congressional criticism. “Closer to Zero,” the FDA plan announced in April, aims to reduce exposure to toxic elements in foods commonly eaten by babies and young children to the lowest possible levels.
“Although the FDA’s testing shows that children are not at an immediate health risk from exposure to toxic elements at the levels found in foods, we are starting the plan’s work immediately, with both short- and long-term goals for achieving continued improvements in reducing levels of toxic elements in these foods over time,” the FDA said at the time.
What Does Arsenic Do to Babies?
Small amounts of arsenic are widely present in the environment, including in water, soil and food. However, exposure to elevated levels of naturally occurring inorganic arsenic can pose a health hazard, especially to young children.
Dr. Miranda Hillard, a pediatrician at