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On October 8, 2021, Maple Island, Inc.—makers of Parent’s Choice baby food products—recalled three lots of Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal after it tested at unsafe levels for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic. Customers were advised to discard the products or return them to Walmart for a full refund.

The Dangers of Arsenic in Baby Foods

According to the FDA’s announcement concerning the recall, it was FDA testing that discovered the arsenic in the baby cereal. A sample from three production lots of the cereal tested “above the guidance for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic.”

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in the environment that can enter the food supply through the soil, water, or air. Levels in the environment are generally low but can vary depending on the location. The health effects from arsenic exposure depend on:

  • The type of arsenic (organic or inorganic)
  • The level of exposure
  • The age of the person exposed

Research so far shows that the level of toxicity and the associated negative health effects are more severe from exposure to inorganic arsenic (which contains arsenic with a non-carbon element like oxygen) than from organic arsenic (which contains arsenic with carbon).

Long-term exposure to inorganic arsenic has been linked with skin disorders and an increased risk for skin, bladder, and lung cancers. Infants and very young children can suffer from impaired intellectual development.

Because of the dangers, the FDA regularly tests arsenic levels in foods, and particularly in foods made for young children. It also places a high priority on monitoring levels of arsenic in rice and rice products because as rice plants grow, they absorb arsenic more readily than other food crops.

The Dangers of Arsenic in Baby Foods

After the FDA informed Maple Island, Inc., of its findings, Maple Island issued a voluntary recall of three lots of Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal manufactured for Walmart. The product was distributed nationally through Walmart’s stores and online. Walmart has pulled the product from its store shelves as well.

The specific lots being recalled were sold after April 5, 2021, and include:

  • Lot 21083 with UPC Code #00681131082907 with a best if used by date of JUN 24 2022.
  • Lot 21084 with UPC Code #00681131082907 with a best if used by date of JUN 25 2022
  • Lot 21242 with UPC Code #00681131082907 with a best if used by date of NOV 30 2022

The “best if used by” dates and product numbers can be found in the bottom left corner on the back of the packaging. Customers should discard the products or return them to Walmart for a refund. Those seeking more information can call Maple Island Inc., Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST at 1-800-369-1022 or contact the company by email at info@maple-island.com.

Recall Comes Amid Rising Concerns About Toxins in Baby Foods

This recall highlights the concerns many consumer groups have been voicing recently about toxins in baby foods. Consumer Reports reported in August 2018 that it had analyzed 50 nationally distributed packaged foods made for babies and toddlers, and found that every product had measurable levels of at least one of four heavy metals. About two-thirds (68 percent) had worrisome levels of at least one.

Congress conducted an investigation and confirmed that the nation’s largest baby food manufacturers are permitting dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals in their products. The FDA recently announced new actions aimed at reducing contamination.

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