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Formula

Food safety authority warns parents against giving rice milk to young children

It says infants and young children up to four-and-a-half years old should not consume rice milk because of low levels of inorganic arsenic.

IRELAND’S FOOD SAFETY authority is warning parents against giving rice milk to young children.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland advises that infants and young children up to four-and-a-half years old should not consume rice milk as a substitute for cows’ milk, breast milk or infant formula.

Previously, the FSAI has warned about findings that indicated low levels of inorganic arsenic can be found in rice milk.

In a statement today, it said it was aware of a rice-based infant and follow-on formula available to buy online via a co.uk website.

“Such infant formulas are not legally permitted to be sold on the European market, as they do not meet the legal compositional and nutritional requirements for infants,” it said.

“The FSAI is in contact with authorities in the UK and other Member States to discontinue the sale of this product in Europe from this website.”

The authority has contacted hospitals and public health professionals to inform them about the online sales.

FSAI Chief Executive Dr Pamela Byrne explained that exposure to inorganic, toxic arsenic must be kept as low as possible.

“Rice-based infant formula and follow-on formula are not legally permitted to be sold on the European market as they do not meet infants’ nutritional requirements,” Dr Byrne said.

“Also, there is a concern around the inorganic arsenic content of rice-based products intended for young children. The FSAI is aware from published studies that low levels of inorganic arsenic have been detected in rice milk in the past and the recommendation is that infants and young children up to 4.5 years are not exposed to these products,” she said.

“Arsenic is present in the environment and, therefore, can be present in a range of foods, including rice, at low levels. The toxicity of arsenic depends on the form in which it is present, this being either organic or inorganic.

The inorganic form is the more toxic form and the FSAI states that exposure to this should be kept as low as reasonably practicable.

“As a precaution, to reduce exposure to inorganic arsenic, parents and guardians should not give these foods to infants and young children up to 4.5 years.”

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