The Beech-Nut Nutrition Co. Tuesday initiated a recall of some of its infant cereal because of excessive levels of arsenic. Also, the company will stop selling it, saying it may not be able to consistently abide by the guidance level in the future.
Consumer Reports immediately praised the Beach-Nut recall announcement for the infant cereal because the levels of inorganic arsenic in it exceed the guidance level adopted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The limits are in place to protect infants and toddlers from exposure to arsenic.
The recalled Beech-Nut Stage 1 Single Grain Rice cereal has a UPC number of 52200034705, an expiration date of 01 MAY 2022, and product codes 103470XXXX and 093470XXXX. The expiration date and product numbers can be found at the bottom of the Beech-Nut Single Rice Cereal canister. These specific product codes were distributed nationally through retail and online sales.
“The safety of infants and children is Beech-Nut’s top priority,” said Jason Jacobs, Beech-Nut vice president of food safety and quality.
“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,” said Jason Jacobs, Vice President, Food Safety and Quality.
No illnesses related to these product codes have been reported to date, and no other production dates or Beech-Nut products are affected by the recall.
The recall follows the FDA guidance level limits on inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal set in August 2020. There are no limits on arsenic in other baby foods or limits for other heavy metals, including cadmium, lead, and mercury despite the potential health risk to young children.
Consumer Reports is calling on Congress to require the FDA to adopt strict limits by approving the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021.
“We’ve known for years that toxic heavy metals are found in popular baby foods and can lead to serious health problems in children over time,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy for Consumer Reports.
“This recall underscores why we need strict limits to keep dangerous heavy metals out of the food that so many parents serve their young children every day. Congress should pass the Baby Food Safety Act so that the FDA can better protect vulnerable infants and toddlers from being exposed to toxic substances in the food they eat.”
Ronholm is a former USDA deputy undersecretary for food safety.
For more than a decade, Consumer Reports (CR) has called on the FDA to establish strict limits because its own tests and research by others has shown concerning levels of heavy metals in baby food that can pose serious health problems in children. In April, the FDA announced an action plan to reduce heavy metals in baby food, but the timeline for adopting limits would leave infants exposed to the higher levels of toxic substances for the next several years. It’s unclear whether the plan will result in the kind of strict limits needed to protect children, according to Consumer Reports.
Founded in 1936, the independent and nonprofit CR is one of the nation’s oldest consumer groups.
The Baby Food Safety Act of 2021 would require the FDA to establish aggressive limits for baby cereal and all other baby foods for cadmium, inorganic arsenic, lead and mercury. It would go into effect two years after the bill is signed into law. It has been introduced in Congress.
The FDA recognizes that trace elements such as these are widely present in the environment, including water, soil, and food and has also stated that exposure to elevated levels of naturally occurring inorganic arsenic can pose a health hazard to young children.
Beech-Nut decided to exit the market for Beech-Nut branded Single Grain Rice Cereal. Beech-Nut out of concern for its ability to consistently obtain rice flour well below the FDA guidance level and Beech-Nut specifications for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic.
Consumers who may have purchased Beech-Nut Rice Cereal with product codes: 103470XXXX and 093470XXXX with the expiration of 01 MAY 2022 should discard the product. They can also go to www.beechnut.com/ricecereal, or call 866-272-9417 for further information on obtaining an exchange or refund.
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