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Louisiana residents exposed to arsenic in many common foods

Many people in Louisiana have started shopping for organic foods believing they are more nutritious and better than foods that have been overly processed or sprayed with insecticide, but a new study shows that may not be entirely true. The study has discovered high levels of cancer in many organic foods and baby formulas that contain organic brown rice syrup, potentially making them unsafe products.

Arsenic is a chemical that can lead to developmental defects, serious medical conditions and cancer, and this chemical is appearing in many different foods with organic brown rice syrup. Of the 17 infant formulas that researchers tested, two had arsenic levels that were 20 times higher than those made without the sweetener. One of the formulas made with soy had arsenic levels that were two times higher than the limits the federal Environmental Protection Agency has set for water.

While some scientists say it is unclear what these high levels of arsenic will do, many are concerned about what effects it will have on infants and young children. Because food and infant formula are so important, it would make sense for manufacturers to test the products to ensure they are not contaminated or could make people sick. Much like other food manufacturers that will check for potentially harmful substances like salmonella or E. coli, the companies that produce organic rice syrup have a duty to provide safe products to consumers.

It seems that rice, and especially brown rice, will absorb arsenic from the soil because the plant mistakes it for silica. Regardless of whether the arsenic is naturally appearing or artificially added, however, manufacturers can often be held accountable for any injuries or illnesses resulting from tainted food.

Source: Health on Today, "High arsenic levels found in organic foods, baby formula," Linda Carroll, Feb. 16, 2012

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