Rice and Arsenic – Should you be concerned?

Brown rice.

Brown rice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In The News – The Rice Dilemma

When both Consumer Reports and the FDA issued reports recently about the troublesome levels of arsenic, a known carcinogen, in rice—brown, white, organic, conventional—and rice products (brown rice syrup, infant rice cereals, rice milk, etc) the High5Kitchen took note.

While it is important not to get ahead of the science, there are certain changes the High5Kitchen is taking. Because rice is a nutrient powerhouse, I’m happy to report that there are ways to lower the levels of arsenic in rice, both through its production and in the kitchen through methods of preparation and cooking.

Background

According to Consumer Reports

  • The U.S. is the world’s leading user of arsenic. About 1.6 million tons were used for agricultural and industrial purposes.
  • Even though banned in the 1980s, residues from decades of use of lead-arsenate insecticides linger in agricultural soil today.
  • Rice absorbs arsenic from soil or water much more effectively than most plants, in part because it is one of the only major crops grown in water-flooded conditions, which results arsenic absorption through its roots, which are then stored in the grains.
  • The south-central region of the country–Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas– has a long history of producing cotton, a crop heavily treated with arsenical pesticides
  • In brands for which they tested both a white and a brown rice, the average total and inorganic arsenic levels were higher in the brown rice than in the white rice of the same brand in all cases.

Given their findings Consumer Reports suggested limiting the consumption of rice products. See their recommendations. See the chart summarizing results of Consumer Reports tests for arsenic in rice or rice products.

The High5Kitchen Strategy

What Consumer Reports Recommends:

  • Set federal limit for arsenic in rice
  • Phase out use of pesticides containing arsenic.
  • End the use of arsenic-laden manure as fertilizer.
  • Ban the feeding of arsenic-containing drugs and animal byproducts to animals.

To get involved ConsumersUnion.org/arsenic.

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