Rice Baby Cereal Sold at Walmart Recalled Due to High Arsenic Levels

Caregivers should check for Parent’s Choice rice baby cereal sold after April 2021

Parent's Choice Rice Baby Cereal Source: FDA

Baby food manufacturer Maple Island issued a nationwide recall of three lots of its 8-ounce Parent’s Choice rice baby cereal after a sample tested above the Food and Drug Administration’s guidance for inorganic arsenic, according to the FDA. The products were tested as part of a routine sampling program by the FDA. No illnesses have been reported.

Parent’s Choice rice baby cereal is sold at Walmart. The retailer said in an announcement in early October that it had pulled the recalled baby food from store shelves. And on Nov. 8, Walmart said it does not plan to restock the product.

While the recall notice says Maple Island’s tests of both the raw materials and the finished rice cereal product showed that they were “in compliance with the FDA’s guidelines,” the company said it issued the recall out of an abundance of caution.

More on food safety

The recall comes after the FDA said earlier this year that it would take steps to reduce certain heavy metals in baby food. The FDA’s announcement came on the heels of a government report that found startlingly high levels of these metals in some foods made by a variety of baby food manufacturers. Since then, the FDA sent letters to manufacturers of baby food as a reminder of their responsibility to consider the hazards of toxic elements such as lead and arsenic in their products.

This is also the second recall by a manufacturer for elevated inorganic arsenic levels in rice cereal for babies in less than six months. Beech-Nut issued a recall in June 2021 and announced it was permanently withdrawing from the infant rice cereal market after routine testing showed elevated levels of arsenic. 

Heavy metals in baby food have been a documented problem for several years. Tests in 2018 of 50 nationally distributed baby and toddler foods by Consumer Reports found that two-thirds had worrisome levels of at least one type of heavy metal.

The problem is that the developing brains and bodies of babies and young children may be particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of heavy metal exposure, which can lower IQ and is linked to behavior problems and ADHD, as well as an increased risk for skin and bladder cancer. (See CR’s advice on how to mitigate exposure.) Despite all the documented risks, the FDA has set limits only for heavy metals such as lead and arsenic in a handful of foods.

“We’ve reached a critical point,” says Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports. “The industry appears to be unable to control the issue, and the FDA’s go-slow regulatory approach is not serving the public interest.”

“Baby food manufacturers should consider pulling infant rice cereal from the market until they are able to implement effective mitigation measures to address inorganic arsenic,” he says. “Parents and caregivers deserve better.”

Maple Island did not respond to CR’s request for comment. 

The Details

Product recalled: Three lots of 8-ounce packages of Parent’s Choice rice baby cereal sold at Walmart after April 5, 2021. The following product information can be found on the bottom left corner on the back of the package:

• Lot 21083, with UPC Code #00681131082907 and a “best if used by” date of June 24, 2022

• Lot 21084, with UPC Code #00681131082907 and a “best if used by” date of June 25, 2022

• Lot 21242, with UPC Code #00681131082907 and a “best if used by” date of Nov. 30, 2022

The problem: The product tested above the guidance level for inorganic arsenic set by the FDA.

The fix: Return the baby food to the Walmart store where it was purchased for a full refund or toss it into the trash.

How to contact the manufacturer: Call Maple Island between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday at 800-369-1022 or send an email to info@maple-island.com.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include new information from Walmart.

Head shot of CRO author Lisa Gill

Lisa L. Gill

As a dorky kid, I spent many a Saturday at the Bloomington, Ind., public library, scouring Consumer Reports back issues for great deals. Now, as a (much) bigger kid, that's still my job! Identifying products and services, especially in healthcare, that are safe, effective, and affordable—and highlighting those that aren't—is my top concern. Got a tip? Follow me on Twitter ( @Lisa_L_Gill)