UN Sets Max On Lead in Infant Formula, Arsenic in Rice

July 21, 2014

Businesses may need to alter their practices to stay within the new lines set by the WHO and FAO's Codex Alimentarius Commission.

In a move that may change how some businesses operate, the UN FAO and WHO have established maximum limits for lead in infant formula and arsenic in rice. Through the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the two organizations have set a limit of no more than 0.01 mg per kg of lead in infant formula and no more than 0.2 mg per kg of arsenic in rice.

The rules set by Codex create a benchmark for international trade and are in some cases adopted by nations as their own regulations. Exposure to lead and arsenic has been linked to numerous potential adverse health effects. Infant formula ingredients and rice are susceptible to these toxins via water and soil used for their harvest and production.

The UN says that rice is especially prone to arsenic absorption, compared to other crops. Its decision to set max levels may encourage businesses to change their agricultural practices either by growing rice in raised beds or in less contaminated land.