Reduced arsenic in rice: Naturis’ solution for baby food and infant nutrition.

Chemicals in baby food, such as arsenic and lead, can harm the brain, lower IQ, and cause behavior problems.

A 2019 HBBF study reported that toxic heavy metals contaminated 95% of the baby foods tested. Concerns about the safety of baby food were raised in Europe and the US. In 2021, Congress found that certain baby foods had dangerous heavy metals like arsenic in them.

Nevertheless, the arsenic problem isn’t new. Arsenic in water has been a problem since the 1980s. Studies found high levels of this metal in drinking water, causing concern. For this reason, the World Health Organization set the level of arsenic in drinking water at 10 μg/l (or 0.01 mg/l). How to reduce arsenic in rice for infant food? Naturis’ R&D has elaborated a revolutionary solution.

What are the dangers of arsenic in baby food?

Arsenic is a metalloid present in the environment in organic and inorganic forms. In inorganic form (mineral arsenic), arsenic is much more toxic, and in high doses, it can lead to poisoning. Even in small quantities, when taken for a long time, it can compromise your health.

People can get sick from arsenic by eating plants like rice (white rice is one of the most sensitive to arsenic contamination) and drinking water from wells. Most wells used for drinking water contain arsenic.

Regarding the health effects deriving from chronic exposure to arsenic, the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) classifies arsenic as a carcinogenic element for humans. In 2009, the EFSA identified four health issues for setting reference doses. These issues include bladder cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, and skin problems such as pigmentation changes and keratosis.

Taking daily doses of more than 0.3 to 8 micrograms/kg of body weight increases the risk of health issues. The risk of each pathology increases by 1% compared to the standard risk.

EFSA has highlighted that children’s dietary exposures are higher than those of adults, as they consume a greater quantity of food relative to their body weight. For these reasons, particular attention should be paid to the quality of nutrition of infants and young children. Arsenic in baby food can alter the developing brain, erode IQ, and cause behavioural problems. No wonder that serious measures are needed to limit the intake of arsenic for young children.

Why are serious measures being taken to reduce arsenic in rice derivated products?

Rice, unlike other cereals, is naturally subject to absorbing arsenic present in the environment, due to the particular conditions in which it is grown: underwater, in the absence of oxygen. It is often the consequence of pollution of aquifers and soil due to industrial toxins and pesticides.

EFSA’s latest updates highlighted that dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic through rice derivatives, for children under three years of age is 2-3 times higher than that of adults. The food market, and in particular the baby food market, is increasingly sensitive to the arsenic problem. However, the problem extends to all rice-derived products: flour, drinks, and syrup included. In this regard, since 2023, the maximum limit of inorganic arsenic in rice has been officially regulated:

  • 25 ppm brown rice and parboiled (and flour)
  • 10 ppm Infant rice
  • 15 ppm white rice

Pure water as part of the solution

For years, Naturis has been using ground water instead of tap water and we have been pursuing continuous and constant qualitative and technological improvement of water, probably the primary element in our industry. Continuous tests and technological innovations have allowed us to identify a precise, safe, and continuous method to improve the quality of the water we use for our treatments of rice. We were happy to notice gradual qualitative improvements in the production processes and realized that improving the quality of water has a direct impact on the reduction of intoxicating substances, such as inorganic arsenic, that are naturally present in most types of rice.

Years of hard work paid off!

At Naturis, we found that the level of arsenic increased in parboiled rice and husked rice compared to other rice. The continuous advancements of our research and development led to improving not only the quality of the water through our purification system, but also a further reduction in the levels of Arsenic in milled rice, obtaining a highly qualitative processed product with a quantity of Arsenic lower than what is prescribed by the standards.

 

Today, Naturis can supply the food industries with cereals with a lower arsenic content than those established by the authorities, in particular referring to the various types of rice dedicated to the infant food sector.

 

Naturis is setting a new standard

The advantages of the results we have obtained are available to all food companies. We are the first company to offer rice with 30% less arsenic than usual. We cannot understate the growing importance of low arsenic levels in our customers’ products.  Naturis is proud to be the first company receiving a special SGS certification for arsenic reduction!

We also communicate this information with pictograms that our customers can understand and use. Each time someone uses this pictogram, it highlights that the product contains less arsenic. Let’s support us in pushing this symbol as a standard for the rice sector.

30% reduced arsenic in rice and rice derivated products. Innovative reduced rice infant food solution
30% reduced arsenic in rice and rice derivated products. Innovative reduced rice infant food solution

We won’t stop here

We work to improve our products beyond official standards, making them healthier than competitors’ and more sustainable. Our research looks at how our production affects other plants, reducing heavy metals and contaminants in legumes and cereals.  We are happy to see our efforts get rewarded.

 

If you want to learn more about the peculiarities of our cereals and legumes or Interested to discover how we can help you make your food products future-proof? 

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