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DPHHS Urges Montanans to Check Cupboards for Recalled Infant Cereal

Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials announced today a voluntary recall of rice cereal for infants and babies has been issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The recalled infant cereal was distributed nationally through Walmart stores and online. This recall is a result of a routine sampling program by the FDA which found that a sample from three production lots of Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal tested above the guidance for naturally occurring inorganic arsenic.

Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal lots being recalled were sold after April 5, 2021. Product lot and date numbers can be found on the back of the packaging in the bottom left corner. For product photos, please visit the FDA website here.

The specific recalled products are also listed here:

  • Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal, 8 oz, lot # 21083, date June 24, 2022
  • Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal, 8 oz, lot # 21084, date June 25, 2022
  • Parent’s Choice Rice Baby Cereal, 8 oz, lot # 21242, date Nov. 30, 2022

DPHHS officials say while efforts to remove the product from Walmart stores have taken place, it’s important that Montanans at this time check their kitchen cupboards for this product.

“Our message to Montanans is to take time to check if this product is in their possession, and if so, discard it,” said DPHHS Director Adam Meier.

The recall was originally announced by FDA and Maple Island Inc. on Oct. 8, 2021. Since that time, Walmart stores have removed all product from store shelves and put a register block at its stores and online to prevent further sales.

No illnesses related to the product lots have been reported to date and no other production lots or Parent’s Choice products are affected by this recall. Maple Island Inc. conducted testing on both the raw material and finished product in question. While the test results were in compliance with the FDA’s guidelines, Maple Island Inc. is issuing this recall out of an abundance of caution.

DPHHS State Toxicologist Dawn Nelson said it’s important to put this recall into context. She said arsenic occurs naturally in the environment and people are exposed to small amounts in food, soil, and water. Rice plants tend to absorb arsenic naturally in soil more than other crops and is a highly consumed food worldwide, especially in cereals for infants.

However, she said the main concern is if only infant rice cereal is provided, there is a risk for babies to be overexposed to arsenic as they consume about three times more rice than adults relative to their body weight. And, arsenic has been linked with neurodevelopmental effects in early childhood.

“This is why the FDA prioritizes monitoring and regulating products that are more likely to be consumed by very young children,” Nelson said.

The FDA guidance of 100 ppb action level is based on reducing average naturally occurring concentrations of arsenic in rice and rice products (104 ppb for white rice cereal and 119 ppb for brown rice cereal) by 20-30%. The FDA considers this protective of public health by reducing infants’ dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic.

“Parents can also do their part to reduce dietary arsenic exposure to infants by offering cereals made with a variety of grains, not only rice,” Nelson said. “Rice cereal fortified with iron is a good source of nutrients but shouldn’t be the only source. As with any diet, eating a variety of foods is important for nutritional balance.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the FDA guidance action level and offers tips to parents.

For more information about the recall, please visit: FDA’s website.