After Latest Recall, Beech-Nut Has Decided to Stop Making Baby Rice Cereal

The popular baby food brand cites difficulty obtaining safe and reliable rice products for their decision.

Beech-Nut Nutrition announced June 9 that they are issuing a voluntary recall of one lot of Beech-Nut Stage 1, Single Grain Rice Cereal.

The brand said the recall was a result of a "routine sampling program by the State of Alaska which found that samples from that production lot of Beech-Nut Stage 1, Single Grain Rice Cereal, tested above the guidance level for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic set by the FDA in August 2020, though the rice flour used had been tested and confirmed as being below the FDA guidance level for inorganic arsenic."

Inorganic arsenic is one of two types of arsenic found in foods. Organic arsenic is a naturally occurring form of the element, and it's common in animal-, seafood-, and plant-based foods. Inorganic arsenic is found in water, soil, and rocks, and it's often the result of environmental pollution, though it can occur naturally, too.

Exposure to inorganic arsenic can lead to a variety of health problems for adults, including some cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. But in children, which is Beech-Nut's concern, high levels of inorganic arsenic in the diet may lead to developmental delays and nerve damage.

Earlier: Congressional Report Raises Concerns Over Baby Foods and Heavy Metals

Beech-Nut Nutrition said that cereals with the product codes of 103470XXXX and 093470XXXX and an expiration date of May 1, 2022 were being recalled and consumers could find the dates and numbers on the bottom of the rice cereal canister.

"These specific product codes were distributed nationally through retail and online," the brand says.

At the time of the release, no illnesses related to these product codes have been reported, and no other production dates or Beech-Nut products have been affected by the recall.

Baby shoving food in his face
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Beech-Nut Discontinues All Rice Cereal Products

In a statement after the recall, Beech-Nut Nutrition said they would be discontinuing production of Single Grain Rice Cereal over concerns about "the ability to consistently obtain rice flour well below the FDA guidance level and Beech-Nut specifications for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic."

Jason Jacobs, vice president of food safety and quality, says,"The safety of infants and children is Beech-Nut's top priority."

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, pediatrician and chief medical officer at SpoonfulONE, says the recall and decision to stop producing rice cereal is a good move.

"If we cannot make baby food that is safe, we shouldn't be serving it to babies," Swanson tells Allrecipes. "Nothing is necessary about rice in anyone's diet and certainly it's not necessary in a baby's diet."

Swanson shared that because arsenic is found in the Earth's crust, it's explainable that it's in our food sources. However, certain foods have higher natural levels, and other elements (including pollution) can increase the levels even more.

"We must be vigilant to protect developing babies from high or unnecessary levels of arsenic, because it can have damaging effects," she says. "Even brown rice or organic rice cereal can have higher levels of arsenic because of the fields where rice is grown. There are so many other cereals and grains to choose from."

Swanson explains that diet diversity is key in early infant feeding and provides protection.

"I prefer a diet full of fruits, veggies, meats, grains, eggs, and all the common allergens for babies," Swanson says. "Grains and cereals are a small part of an infant's diet and rice is never needed — nor would I recommend it. Whole grain cereals are better choices."

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