Not giving toddlers and young children rice drinks will minimise their exposure to inorganic arsenic, says Department of Health guidance.
The advice follows results of a survey by the Food Standards Agency of inorganic arsenic levels in 60 samples of rice drinks available in the UK.
Arsenic occurs naturally at low levels in organic and inorganic forms and low levels were detected in rice drinks of around 12ug/kg.
The inorganic form can cause cancer and the government’s Committee on Toxicity has advised that exposure should be as low as reasonably practicable.
As a precaution, the DH advises against the substitution of breast milk, infant formula, cows’ milk or soya drink with rice drinks for toddlers and young children aged 1-5 years.
Parents of toddlers and young children with diagnosed allergy to cows’ milk and soya drink should be advised on suitable alternatives such as fully hydrolysed infant formula or oat and almond drinks.
Toddlers and young children who are lactose intolerant or who have galactosaemia should receive infant lactose-free formula.