Madigan Warns Parents About Arsenic Levels in Rice

Illinois' attorney general joined a chorus of consumer groups Wednesday in warning parents about the presence of arsenic in rice and infant rice cereals.

New testing by Consumer Reports found evidence of inorganic arsenic in rice products, and Lisa Madigan's office said it included rice cereals for babies. Madigan said the findings raise big concerns about how much arsenic infants and young children are consuming through these products.

“First and foremost, I want to warn parents that every rice cereal product we tested contained arsenic," Madigan said in a statement. "These results are shocking because rice cereal is often a baby’s first solid food."

She called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to set national standards to limit inorganic arsenic in food, especially in baby food. Madigan also sent letters to manufacturers asking them to reduce arsenic in their food and urged parents to review new recommendations set by Consumer Reports.

“Parents and caregivers should moderate the amount of rice products they feed their children, while the FDA sets standards to limit this known carcinogen in our food,” Madigan said.

Madigan said her office submitted rice products for testing after Consumer Reports last year found the presence of arsenic in apple juice and tests at Dartmouth that detected arsenic in brown rice syrup.

So far, FDA officials said they have found no evidence that suggests rice is unsafe to eat, according to the Associated Press. The agency is studying 1,200 samples of grocery-store rice products — short and long-grain rice, cereals, drinks and even rice cakes — to measure arsenic levels.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said consumers shouldn't stop eating rice, though she did encourage a diverse diet just in case.