Mercury and arsenic in infant cereals

A study from the University of Navarra, Spain, has identified excessive levels of mercury and arsenic in some infant cereal products. The researchers are calling for regulation of maximum levels of these contaminants in infant foods.

The study analysed 91 different products from 10 different manufacturers. The ingredients cocoa and rice were found to be the main sources of mercury and arsenic, respectively. Organic infant cereals based on cocoa showed the highest risk intakes of mercury, very close to exceeding European intake guidelines. Of the studied cereals, 32 out of 91 provide a risk of arsenic intake exceeding government guidelines.

It should be noted that this study relates to products found on the European (Spanish) market, not the North American market. In addition, mercury and arsenic are just two of many contaminants now being found in the human food chain. That does not mean that levels of these contaminants are acceptable, just that if one focusses on just one or two contaminants one may not be seeing the whole picture of environmental contaminants in food.

The mercury and arsenic study is published in the peer-reviewed journal Food Control and may be found at  abstract is free; a fee or subscription is required for the full text.

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