Organic brown rice syrup has been found to contain dangerously high levels of arsenic.
That's right--those of us who are trying faithfully to avoid high-fructose corn syrup often choose products with brown rice syrup, especially energy bars. Clif bars are my favorite meal replacement, such as on Sunday mornings when we race out of the house without time for breakfast.
Environmental chemist Brian P. Jackson and his team found dangerous amounts of arsenic in brown rice syrup, which is used as an alternative sweetener in a variety of products. The research is published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
Apparently rice (especially brown) picks up more of the arsenic in the ground than other grains. Organic natural forms of arsenic are found in the soil, while traces of arsenic-based pesticides (banned in 1999) can also still be found in the soil.
The worst of it is that this also applies to two brands of organic toddler formula made with brown rice syrup--these formulas had 20 to 30 times more arsenic than the other formulas. Given the small size of a toddler, that level of arsenic is dangerous. Ironically, this formula company's web site touts, "Following breast milk, parents can continue providing organic nutrition with Baby's Only Organic® Toddler Formula. Nature's One® scientifically designed the first organic formulas using ingredient standards that extend beyond 'organic,' insuring (sic) the highest quality nutritional formulas available." My #1 question is this: why in the heck are parents giving toddlers formula with sweetener in it, anyway? Why not cow milk, soy milk, or some other form of milk?
This news does not come completely out of the blue. In 2010, Consumer Reports found high levels of heavy metals, including arsenic, in protein powders and protein drinks. I hope you're reading this, Nadine and David! Scary. Is nothing safe?