Today Beech-Nut Nutrition Company announced a voluntary recall of one lot of its Stage 1 Single Grain Rice Cereal following sampling that revealed the product tested above the guidance level for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic set by FDA last summer. The routine sampling was conducted by the State of Alaska. The recalled item has an expiration date of May 1, 2022.
“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,” said Jason Jacobs, Vice President, Food Safety and Quality, Beech-Nut, in a company announcement published on FDA’s website.
Perhaps even bigger news is Beech-Nut’s announcement that it is exiting the market for its branded Single Grain Rice Cereal. The company is concerned that it will not be able to consistently obtain rice flour that is well-below FDA’s guidance level (as well as Beech-Nut’s specifications) for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic.
Following a report released nearly two weeks ago about the potential danger posed by toxic heavy metals found in baby foods manufactured by several major companies, FDA has issued a response. The report, “Baby Foods Are Tainted with Dangerous Levels of Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury”, was released by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy on February 4. The Subcommittee stated that FDA should require baby food manufacturers to test their finished products for toxic heavy metals and require any toxic heavy metals be reported on food labeling. It also stated that FDA should set maximum levels of toxic heavy metals allowed in baby foods.
“The FDA has been actively working on this issue using a risk-based approach to prioritize and target the agency’s efforts. Consumers should know that FDA scientists routinely monitor levels of toxic elements in baby foods, along with other foods consumed in the country’s diet, through the Total Diet Study,” the agency stated in a CFSAN update. “Further, the FDA also monitors baby food under the FDA’s compliance program for Toxic Elements in Food and Foodware, and Radionuclides in Food and through targeted sampling assignments.”
FDA cited its work in sampling infant rice cereal for arsenic, which it says has resulted in safer products on the market, along with its recent court order to stop a U.S. company from distributing adulterated juice that had potentially harmful levels of inorganic arsenic and patulin (a mycotoxin).
The CFSAN update, however, did not specifically address the companies or baby foods called out in the Subcommittee’s report.
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