- Almost all rice and rice products have been found to contain arsenic - brown and white, organic and conventional, short- and long-grain, US grown or imported, adult and baby cereals, rice beverages, rice cakes and crackers. - Consumer Reports
- Rice is thought to have higher levels of arsenic than other foods because it is grown in water.
- Arsenic-containing poultry litter (feathers, feces, feed) is used as an approved fertilizer in organic farming of rice. - Lundberg Rice. Arsenic is in poultry litter because poultry are fed arsenic-containing drugs, e.g. Roxarsone, for parasite control and weight gain. - Mother Jones
- Inorganic arsenic is more of a problem than organic arsenic.
- "Inorganic arsenic is classified by the U.S. EPA as a known human carcinogen, based on extensive population studies of lung cancers following inhalation exposure, and skin cancers following ingestion of contaminated drinking water in adults; arsenic exposure also may be associated with a higher incidence of bladder, liver, kidney, and prostate cancer." - EPA: Inorganic Arsenic
- There is no federal limit for how much arsenic is allowed in food. - Consumer Reports
- "The EPA assumes there is actually no “safe” level of exposure to inorganic arsenic." - Consumer Reports
- There is a federal limit of 10 parts per billion (10 ppb) for inorganic arsenic in drinking water. New Jersey has a stricter standard of 5 ppb. - Consumer Reports
- One liter of water (about 4 cups) would expose you, in New Jersey, to 5 micrograms (5 mcg) of inorganic arsenic. Use that 5 mcg as a gauge for the two bullets below. - Consumer Reports
How much arsenic is being found in rice?
- The FDA released results of 200 samples. Some average levels (in mcg inorganic):
- Rice (other than Basmati rice): 6.7 per 1 cup (cooked)
- Rice cakes: 5.4 per 2 cakes
- Rice beverages: 3.8 per 240 ml (some samples not tested for inorganic arsenic)
- Rice cereals: 3.5 per 1 cup
- Basmati rice: 3.5 per 1 cup cooked
- Consumer Reports released results of 223 samples, found levels up to 9.6 mcg per serving (9.6 mcg was for a serving, 1/4 cup dry, of long grain brown rice). - Consumer Reports, includes a table with brand names
What to do:
- Rinse raw rice thoroughly before cooking. Cook like pasta, using a ratio of at least 6 cups water to 1 cup rice. Drain excess water afterward. Research has shown that rinsing and draining removes about 30% of inorganic arsenic. (Here's my picture post on how to cook rice like pasta. I'll be throwing out the rice water from now on!)
- Brown rice can have higher levels of inorganic arsenic than white rice because it contains the bran and germ. - Lundberg Rice
- The kidneys eliminate arsenic and its metabolites. Drink generously. - EPA: Inorganic Arsenic
- Diversify your diet. "There are contaminants in everything. Nothing is completely safe." - Professor Jaymie Meliker, Stony Brook University.
Note that the amount of inorganic arsenic in some rice exceeds the limit in New Jersey for water.
Also, none of this addresses how arsenic from various sources adds up ... do we cook our arsenic-containing rice in arsenic-containing water? Yes, we do.
Arsenic in our food supply is a problem. And, as I've often discussed, pollutants concentrate as you move up the food chain. What are we feeding livestock?
It's not valid to claim that diets of humans from decades or millennia past are good for us because that's what we evolved to eat. Foods from the past don't exist anymore. Today's foods contain thousands of chemicals and pollutants (arsenic, mercury, pesticides, BPA and other endocrine disruptors) that impact metabolism. We have only the present with which to deal.
There's an excellent book, _Eating on the Wild Side: the Missing Link to Optimum Health_, by Jo Robinson. She discusses how foods began to change their chemical makeup NOT in the last 100 or so years as we began to mess with hybridizing, but rather at the start of the Neolithic period, when we settled down & began to farm. She notes differences in phytonutrients by looking at some of today's wild plants that haven't been domesticated and their domesticated counterparts--e.g., the weed lamb's-quarters, whose leaves are eaten like spinach and whose seeds became, in domestic form, quinoa. Of course, not many people have the desire, time, or knowledge to forage for wild foods, so the author also recommends varieties of various veggies, fruits, etc. to buy at the store, based on their phytonutrient content, and how to handle/store/cook/and eat them to minimize nutrient loss. It's really fascinating!
I know in Asia especially Japan there's no such thing as a "no wash" rice. Rice is washed till water runs clear which is a lot of water. In high end restaurants and sushi shops there is a person whose only job is cooking rice.
I wonder if this problem is true of all rice all over the world???? Rice is like our bread and potato.
"no wash" rice ... interesting. from what I've read, the arsenic is inside the rice kernel too. I guess you can wash some of it off but, well.
I really like rice, all kinds. When I was growing up it was drowning in butter. We would put a butter pat in a little scooped out portion on a mound.
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