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.