5 On Your Side

Study: Arsenic found in all varieties of rice

Posted September 19, 2012

Rice is a go-to for a lot of us.

White, brown, rice cakes –– even cereal. Rice cereal is often a baby's first solid food.

Consumer Reports tested 32 different types of rice and dozens of rice products. All of them contained arsenic. Many of the samples had troubling levels of inorganic arsenic, which is the most toxic form.

"Inorganic arsenic is a known human carcinogen that has been linked to skin, lung, and bladder cancer," said Andrea Rock of Consumer Reports.

Federal guidelines limit the amount of arsenic in drinking water, but there aren't any guidelines for rice and most other foods.

Arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil. Rice is grown in water, so the conditions are optimal.

Consumer Reports found there was often more arsenic in brown rice than in white.

"We aren't able to draw conclusions about specific brands because our tests are limited," Rock said. "But the analysis we did of government data shows that for Americans who eat rice, it is a significant source of arsenic exposure."

The USA Rice Federation, an industry trade group, insists "there is no documented evidence of actual adverse health effects from exposure to arsenic in U.S. grown rice."

Right now, the Food and Drug Administration is measuring arsenic levels of 1,200 different products found at the grocery store. They just released preliminary data showing results consistent with Consumer Reports' findings.

The FDA cautions they still have plenty of testing to complete to know what the next step should be.

"We already know that even low levels of arsenic exposure increase your risk of cancer and other health problems," Rock said. "We don't want to alarm people, but we do recommend that you limit the amount of rice that you eat."

For babies, Consumer Reports recommends no more than a quarter-cup of rice cereal per day.

Experts say rinse rice thoroughly to help reduce arsenic levels.

6 Comments

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  • Karmageddon Sep 25, 2012

    Did you not read the article 1983rs?

    "Arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil. Rice is grown in water, so the conditions are optimal
    '

  • Duke _Nukem Sep 21, 2012

    Here's a nice little article on how the FDA allows arsenic for coloration of meat sold in grocery stores. Yeah, the FDA picks and chooses....
    http://nazareth.patch.com/articles/arsenic-danger-found-in-rice-by-consumer-reports

  • 1983rs Sep 20, 2012

    much of the US rice is grown on land where cotton was grown before.. arsenic was used to combat the bowlwevil(they became resistant to it)in ever increasing amounts.. its in the soil now, rice is just real good at extracting it..and people wonder about why regulating pestisides is good thing...

  • pmck Sep 20, 2012

    ScubaGirl raises a great question - why just the US? Read CestLaVie's comments - she answers it in statement #1. No other coutries allow corporations to control their food sources.

  • CestLaVie Sep 20, 2012

    Scuba:

    1. IMHO, believing anything put out by the FDA is not smart at all. They are IN BED WITH the food & drug industries of this nation & there's a revolving door between these industries' boards & management. For example, former FDA administrators are on the boards of Monsanto & other known GMO evil corporations. Once their time is served there, they go back to work for the FDA.

    2. If the arsenic is IN the rice, how does rinsing it do any good? This is bad advice by Consumer Reports. This is like trying to rinse off the saturated fat & cholesterol off a steak before cooking it.

    Cripes, it took anyone long enough to admit this junk about rice in general & admit it to the public. One more grain not good for us. Tops on that list is wheat, which is HIGHLY GMO, full of gluten & IN EVERYTHING because it's cheap now that it's chemically changed from it's original predecessor.

    Is anyone reading this making any connections on the food bill of goods sold to Americans?

  • Scubagirl Sep 19, 2012

    "The USA Rice Federation, an industry trade group, insists "there is no documented evidence of actual adverse health effects from exposure to arsenic in U.S. grown rice."

    Well, OF COURSE they would say that. I, however, tend to believe Consumer Reports & the FDA. Will be interesting to see the final test results when it's all said & done.

    Why is is just US grown rice?

    I always rinse my rice, regardless of country of origin, because it cooks better.