Inorganic arsenic (i-As) has been identified as a non-threshold carcinogen. Children are particularly susceptible to As exposure and early-life exposure may adversely affect long-term health, yet there are no EU standards for i-As or total (t-As), given that i-As in water is tightly regulated yet food sources dominate EU exposure. The levels of tolerable dietary exposure to i-As have been reviewed and the WHO Tolerable Weekly Intake has been withdrawn as data has shown that i-As causes cancer and other health problems at lower exposures. The main exposure route to i-As in the EU is dietary, and rice is the main source. Rice accumulates significantly higher levels of As than other crops. Infant consumers of rice-based products are one of the population groups in the EU with higher exposure levels. However, exposure calculations have been based on occurrence figures of t-As from limited and non-representative numbers of samples. More As speciation data for different rice-based infant products are required to support dietary exposure assessment and define risk assessment of i-As. The main objectives of the RICENIC project are i) provide an accurate risk assessment of i-As exposure of EU infants and ii) set up feasible recommendations to reduce i-As burden in rice-based infant products based on agricultural and industrial practices. The expected results are a) the generation of a database of t-As, i-As and As bioaccessibility/bioavailabiliy in cereal-based infant food marketed in the EU, b) the assessment and risk characterization of i-As in EU infants, c) determination of the effects of the agricultural practices on the As concentration and speciation in rice grain, d) determination of the effects of manufacturing processes on the As concentration and speciation in rice-based infant products and e) enhance the framework for understanding i-As in the human diet with respect to informing the setting of i-As standards in food.
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