Rice cakes and rice milk: suitable for young children?

February 25, 2017 11:34 am Published by Leave your thoughts

There have been concerns recently about levels of arsenic in rice. Arsenic occurs naturally in our environment and is absorbed by rice as it grows. Safe levels of arsenic in rice are set internationally and, when eaten as part of a normal, balanced diet, rice presents no problem at all for adults. But what about children?

We take a look at the issues surrounding rice, arsenic and children.

Rice – how safe is it for children?

What about children?

Concerns persist with regard to young children and rice. There’s been a huge expansion in rice-based products sold for young children in recent years. Rice-cakes, for example, have become a popular healthy snack for toddlers, while ‘baby rice’ remains one of the first solid foods offered to babies. Ground rice is also used as a thickener, or as a dessert ingredient, in many processed baby foods.

The allowable levels of arsenic in baby rice foods are set much lower than for adults, as small children have lower bodyweights. If you make sure that your baby or toddler is having a balanced, healthy diet, and feed them products aimed specifically at children, there’s nothing to worry about here either.

Take care when giving rice products to children

Rice puffs can be great for breakfast if you’re an adult

The only real problem occurs if you’re feeding your baby or toddler processed rice-based food that’s not specifically aimed at children. This food may contain levels of arsenic that are fine for adults, but not for children. Products such as adult-sized rice-cakes, or puffed rice breakfast cereals, fall into this category – they’re not considered to be products especially designed for children, so don’t have to meet the lower arsenic standards.

If you think you might be giving your child too many rice products, it’s probably best to read up on the precise guidelines yourself. On the BBC2 website, it’s suggested that one adult-sized rice cake a day would be sufficient for a one-year-old, or 2 tablespoons of baby rice. For most people, the answer is simply going to be based on common sense. Don’t give adult rice cakes or rice cereal too frequently. Find a nice carrot stick, or a bowl of porridge, instead!

Rice milk

Don't give rice milk to the under 5s.

And what about rice milk?

Rice milk presents one further problem for children. Medical guidance is not to give rice milk as an alternative to dairy milk to children under five years of age at all. Given children’s proportionally higher intake of milk, arsenic levels could well be a concern if a child has a diet heavily based around rice milk.

If you’re currently giving rice milk because you’re avoiding dairy milk, you might be interested in some alternatives. Click on the links below to find out more about these.

Medical guidance should always be sought before changing to a different form of milk. The NHS advises choosing a brand fortified with calcium where possible.




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This post was written by Yzanne

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