Dangerous Arsenic Levels in Organic Granola Bars and You’ll Never Guess Why
I can remember plenty of times when I landed in a country where food safety and availability were uncertain and as a result energy bars became breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I can remember those times when nothing was more welcomed to my famished vessel than a chewy, gooey granola bar.
These compact and seemingly healthy calories have their place in an active life. But a new study is showing that even the organic variety may have its shortfalls.
Arsenic in Brown Rice Syrup
A Dartmouth study has found high arsenic levels in various energy, cereal, and granola bars as well as energy shot drinks. Brown rice syrup, a popular ingredient, seems to be the culprit. It’s a healthier and higher quality substitute for high fructose corn syrup that’s made it’s may into tons of organic foods.
The study, led by Brian Jackson, Director of Trace Metal Analysis at Dartmouth’s Department of Earth Science, showed that rice plants take in arsenic through soil because it behaves like silica, a nutrient that rice needs to grow. This begs to question how high the rice itself is in arsenic, especially considering that for many, a plant-based whole foods diet centers around rice.
Jackson contends that there is an urgent need for regulatory limits on arsenic. Clif Bar commented on their Facebook page that the arsenic was naturally occurring, but it's still unclear as to whether the naturally occurring arsenic is dangerous. To be clear, there are two types of arsenic: organic and inorganic. The inorganic arsenic is harmful while the FDA contends that "the organic forms of arsenic are essentially harmless." Both forms have been found in ground water and soil, which is the entry point into our food supply.
Clif Bar went on to say that they will further look into the new information to ensure food safety.
No current safe limit exists in the U.S. except for a limit on public drinking water which is set at 10 parts per billion (ppb). The study found that cereal bars and energy shots were much higher, from 23 ppb to 128 ppb.
Arsenic in Apple Juice
Arsenic in apple juice first brought this lack of regulation into the limelight. Consumer Reports found excessively high levels of arsenic in apple and grape juice. The report found that after testing 88 brands of juice, 10 percent had higher levels than the federal drinking water standards and 25 percent had higher levels than the FDA’s bottled water drinking standards.
More on Arsenic in Foods
High Levels of Arsenic Found in Children's Urine, You'll Never Guess Where it Came From
FDA Responds: How Safe Are Arsenic Levels in Apple Juice?
Pfizer Halts Use of Arsenic-Containing Poultry Drug