Arsenic in Rice. How Many Studies Do We Need for the FDA to Act?


Arsenic in Products Containing Rice by-products.  Start Reading Labels.

Arsenic in Products Containing Rice by-products. Start Reading Labels.

Here we go again. Arsenic in rice is in the news again.   A recent Consumer Report study sounded the alarms again about the issue.   In fact, I have been sounding the alarm since February, 2012 with my petition.  Worse yet, noted arsenic expert Professor Andrew Meharg  has been warning the world since 2007!   Where is the FDA?   Oh, they are looking into the issue, which is code words for “not in your life time.”

Okay, don’t walk away and say, I don’t eat rice.  This doesn’t apply to me.  Well, you are wrong.  Turn over a few packages and see if rice or any derivative is in your cereal bars, energy drinks, or any other products.

What Does the FDA Have to Say?

Back to the FDA.  Okay to be fair.  The FDA did test products too.  But don’t hold your breath. They state

“[b]ased on data and scientific literature available now, FDA is not recommending that consumers change their consumption of rice and rice products at this time, but that people eat a balanced diet containing a wide variety of grains.”

Hear the code words?

In fact, watch my video below.

Consumer Report Study

The Consumer Reports study revealed tests results of 200 different products.  Many of the products contained concerning levels of inorganic arsenic.  This type of arsenic according to Consumer Reports is “known to cause bladder, lung, and skin cancer in humans, with the liver, kidney, and prostate now considered potential targets of arsenic-induced cancers.”

Inorganic arsenic in the soil can comes  from arsenic pesticides, arsenic laden feed, and manure (poultry) fertilizers.  In some countries arsenic comes from high levels of arsenic in the water.  Read my article here on the whole mess on arsenic and rice.

When I originally started to research this issue, I couldn’t understand why rice and arsenic had a love affair.  Professor Meharg explained rice naturally uptakes the arsenic in the soil due to how it is grown.  Rice is flooded in water which exacerbates the arsenic uptake.

Honestly, the Consumer Reports study didn’t reveal anything I didn’t know.  As I mentioned before, there have been numerous studies all over the world about arsenic and rice.

However, what the Consumer Reports study did was put in black and white the actual tests results  for everyone to see. Since there are no federal standards for arsenic in rice, CR used a the New Jersey standard of 5 micro-grams of  inorganic arsenic per liter limit in water.

Once you read the results,  everyone will  know rice that comes from the US southcentral area contains higher levels of inorganic arsenic.  80% of rice comes from that area and it doesn’t matter if it is organic or regular old rice.  According to Consumer Reports,

“Among all tested rice, the highest levels of inorganic arsenic per serving were found in some samples of Martin Long Grain Brown rice, followed by Della Basmati Brown, Carolina Whole Grain Brown, Jazzmen Louisiana Aromatic Brown, and Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Long Grain Brown. But we also found samples of brown rice from Martin and others with inorganic arsenic levels lower than that in some white rice”

And guess what?  Brown rice from those areas has higher levels of arsenic than white.  But don’t be fooled.  White isn’t a blushing bride either.

Consumer Reports also noted “that people who reported eating one rice food item had total urinary arsenic levels 44 percent greater than those who had not, and people who reported consuming two or more rice products had levels 70 percent higher than those who had no rice.” (emphasis added.)

What Really Pisses Me Off

The 2012 Dartmouth study revealed that certain products that contained organic brown rice syrup contained disturbing levels of inorganic arsenic.  The products tested were certain toddler formulas, energy bars, and energy drinks.  As I continued my research about rice it dawned on me.  What is baby’s first food.  RICE.  In fact, Consumer Reports confirmed what I have been screaming about in my petition.

“Among the four infant cereals tested, we found varying levels of arsenic, even in the same brand. Gerber SmartNourish Organic Brown Rice cereal had one sample with the highest level of total arsenic in the category at 329 ppb, and another sample had the lowest total level in this category at 97.7 ppb. It had 0.8 to 1.3 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per serving.

Earth’s Best Organic Whole Grain Rice cereal had total arsenic levels ranging from 149 ppb to 274 ppb, but higher levels of inorganic arsenic per serving, from 1.7 to 2.7 micrograms.”

Note, the numbers are per serving.  Babies may eat one or more servings per day.  Cumulative effect. Not only are young children at risk, what about all my friends who are gluten free or eat rice as a staple in their diet? Heck what about all of us? Rice is in so many products.

What Can you Do?

Picture by PawPaw67.

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  1. […] Arsenic in rice is one of my big nemesis these days. In February and September, 2012 separate studies came out warning about arsenic levels in rice. (See here and here.) Sadly nothing has changed since then despite my arsenic experts made it very clear that agricultural changes can reduce the problem.  Astonishingly,  Lotus Foods imports rice from farmers who are using those very recommended agricultural practices.  The world needs to hear this story. […]

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