Beech-Nut recall: Baby food brand will stop selling rice cereal due to high arsenic levels


Beech-Nut Nutrition, a popular brand of baby food, is voluntarily recalling a lot of its rice cereal because it contained levels of arsenic above federal guidelines.

In the recall notice posted on the Food & Drug Administration website this week, Beech-Nut also has announced it will no longer sell the rice cereal and says it has “decided to exit the market for Beech-Nut branded Single Grain Rice Cereal.”

“Beech-Nut is concerned about the ability to consistently obtain rice flour well-below the FDA guidance level and Beech-Nut specifications for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic,” the company said in its notice on the FDA site.

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Beech-Nut’s move comes months after a House Oversight subcommittee investigation found levels of arsenic, lead and other toxic metals that can harm brain development in many popular baby foods.

“The safety of infants and children is Beech-Nut’s top priority,” Jason Jacobs, Beech-Nut vice president food safety and quality, said in a statement. He added the company issued the recall after learning of the levels through routine sampling by the state of Alaska.

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Last August, the FDA finalized guidance for infant rice cereal, recommending it contain no more than 100 parts per billion of arsenic. The subcommittee’s report in February said Beech-Nut used some ingredients that tested as high as 913 parts per billion for arsenic.

Beech-Nut recall: Baby food brand will stop selling rice cereal due to high arsenic levels

Baby Food Safety Act of 2021

Consumer Reports and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund are calling on Congress to pass the Baby Food Safety Act of 2021, which would require the FDA to adopt strict limits.

“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,” Brian Ronholm, Consumer Reports director of food policy, said in a statement. “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.”

U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog Teresa Murray said baby food manufacturers aren’t required to test their final products or disclose results to regulators or to parents. Murray said the Baby Food Safety Act, which was proposed by lawmakers in March, would address these issues.

Beech-Nut rice cereal recall

According to the recall notice, the lot of Beech-Nut Single Grain Rice that is being recalled has an expiration date of May 1, 2022, and is UPC code 52200034705. The specific product codes are 103470XXXX and 093470XXXX.

Both the expiration date and product numbers can be found at the bottom of the cereal canister. These specific product codes were distributed nationally through retail and online.

“No illnesses related to these product codes have been reported to date, and no other production dates or Beech-Nut products are affected by this recall,” the company said.

The recalled products should be discarded. Consumers can fill out a form on Beechnut.com/ricecereal to get recalled products replaced or call 1-866-272-9417, for more information on getting a refund or exchange.

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Contributing: Associated Press

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko. For more shopping tips and deals, join us on our Shopping Ninjas Facebook group.

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