Thursday, September 20, 2012

Arsenic In Rice

Some things I'm learning:

  • 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:

Photo of rice growing in flooded paddy from Wikipedia.


Angela and Melinda said...

Thanks for posting about this, Bix. Really appreciate your perspective on it.

Angela and Melinda said...

Arsenic also causes lung and kidney cancer.

Bix said...

I think I may soak my rice for a few hours before boiling it. No big deal, I just have to remember. I like rice.

Maybe this publicity will put pressure on the industry to produce a cleaner product.

I know people who smoke and eat, well, indiscriminately?, who say it doesn't matter, that they could die in an automobile accident tomorrow. I think ... if there's something we can do to improve the quality of life, why not?

Sherri said...

IIRC, I remember reading that rice doesn't have to be grown in water, so I looked it up again. It seems flooded fields aren't necessary for rice to grow, but the fact that rice can survive in flooded fields does offer certain advantages: weed & pest control, food crop in lower lying areas or clay soil.

But the above page didn't mention arsenic. Would rice grown in fields that don't flood have less arsenic?

Meanwhile, I'm grateful for your teachings how to lesson arsenic in rice ^_^

Sherri said...

This came through my twitter feed:

Arkansas Farmers Sue Pfizer, Tyson Foods Over Arsenic in Rice
1st paragraph:
Three Arkansas farming operations have filed suit against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Tyson Foods Inc. and three other Arkansas poultry producers, alleging arsenic found in Arkansas rice is caused by farmers' use of chicken litter as fertilizer.

Bix said...

No way! I'll have to read that...