Arsenic in rice: Is it safe to eat?
Recent reports of arsenic in rice are causing concern for many; learn about this topic, how it affects your health and how you should respond.
October 4, 2012 - Author: Leatta Byrd, Michigan State University Extension
Arsenic and poison are synonymous and are known to be deadly, but recently arsenic found in rice has dominated the news. Food experts state that the arsenic in rice they have been investigating is in low levels – not enough to poison you; they also explain that arsenic occurs naturally in the air and water.
The arsenic found in rice was discovered in a recent study conducted by Consumer Reports where 223 samples of rice and rice products were tested in a variety of more than 60 rice products. The rice products were tested for arsenic in both organic and inorganic forms. The organic form of arsenic can be hazardous to long-term health. Exposure to low levels of arsenic overtime might increase chances of developing both cancer and heart diease.
Levels of arsenic in rice or rice products currently have no federal limits. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is currently testing rice and rice products and will complete their tests by the end of the year. The FDA will look at rice test results and the geographic area that the rice is grown in and make recommendations and determine how to decrease consumer’s exposure to arsenic in rice.
White and brown rice both contain arsenic but brown rice contains higher levels. It appears that the arsenic is found in the outer layers of rice. This layer is removed when brown rice is polished, processed and becomes white rice.
So should we all stop eating rice? Is it safe to eat? Nutrition experts are recommending that consumers eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods, including whole grains. This ensures adequate intake of nutrients while minimizing the risk of potential harm from any one food also rinse raw rice in cold water before cooking.
In the Consumer Reports study, it is suggested that adults eat no more than two servings of rice each week.
Environmental experts recommend parents with infants buy non-rice baby cereals, such as oatmeal or mixed grains and not to use rice milk as a dairy substitute.