Beech-Nut recalls and stops making baby rice cereal over arsenic issues

Beech-Nut has announced the recall of its Stage 1 Single Grain Rice Cereal, a type of baby food that is being removed from the market. The recall was due to levels of inorganic arsenic that tested above the FDA's guidance level. Inorganic arsenic is a naturally occurring substance and health officials have previously warned that rice products may inadvertently feature it in risky quantities.

According to Beech-Nut, the rice flour that was used for this single grain rice cereal product was tested and found to be below the FDA's guidance level for arsenic. However, Alaska recently found excessive levels of inorganic arsenic in routine samples from a production lot of the baby food, prompting the recall.

Arsenic is a toxic element that, based on multiple studies, can be found in high levels in rice. Inorganic arsenic is found in water, soil, and rocks, and is a more toxic form of the naturally occurring element. Rice is able to accumulate inorganic arsenic from the environment in which it is grown, potentially posing a health risk.

As part of its recall, Beech-Nut said that it is exiting the market when it comes to its Single Grain Rice Cereal. The reason is due to concerns about getting rice flour that is consistently below the FDA's guidance levels. In explaining this decision, the company's VP of Food Safety and Quality Jason Jacobs said:

The safety of infants and children is Beech-Nut's top priority. We are issuing this voluntary recall, because we learned through routine sampling by the State of Alaska that a limited quantity of Beech-Nut Single Grain Rice Cereal products had levels of naturally-occurring inorganic arsenic above the FDA guidance level, even though the rice flour used to produce these products tested below the FDA guidance level for inorganic arsenic.

Consumers who have purchased this particular Beech-Nut product should check the recall notice for the products' UPC code, product codes, and expiration dates. The company is advising people who have one of these recalled units to throw it away.