Rice & Arsenic Exposure

Association of Rice and Rice-Product Consumption With Arsenic Exposure Early in Life
Margaret R. Karagas, Ph, et al.
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(6):609-616.

Rice—a typical first food and major ingredient in various infant foods—contains inorganic arsenic (As), but the extent of As exposure from these foods has not been well characterized in early childhood.

Conclusions and Relevance 
Our findings indicate that intake of rice cereal and other rice-containing foods, such as rice snacks, contribute to infants’ As exposure and suggest that efforts should be made to reduce As exposure during this critical phase of development.

Arsenic in rice stirs US action
Nature blogs. 22 Sep 2012

On the heels of two reports that have reignited worries about arsenic poisoning from rice, US lawmakers are taking steps to restrict the toxic substance.

On 21 September, US Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut introduced a bill that would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to set limits on allowable arsenic levels in rice and rice products.
The proposal specifies that the heavy metal — which has been linked to increased risk of certain cancers

Arsenic occurs naturally in soil and can be taken up by plants such as rice.
However, as Nature reported in 2005, in the United States, and particularly in some Southern states, arsenic may be concentrated in rice fields once used for cotton farming and treated with arsenic-based pesticides against boll weevils.

FDA researchers analysed arsenic levels in about 200 samples of rice and rice products from the US marketplace — including rice cakes, cereals and drinks — which originated in the United States and other countries. The report measured organic and inorganic arsenic, the latter of which is considered particularly toxic.

Average inorganic arsenic levels ranged from 3.5 micrograms per serving for basmati rice to 6.7 micrograms for non-basmati rice. In dry weight, the study found inorganic arsenic levels in some samples as high as 100–200 parts per billion.

Federal regulations limit arsenic in drinking water to 10 parts per billion. No such limits exist for food, according to the FDA.

Earlier this week, a parallel study appeared online in Consumer Reports, a publication of the New York-based consumer protection group Consumers Union. The advocates called their results “worrisome”, encouraging consumers to limit intake of rice and rice products. Consumers Union also pushed for federal standards on arsenic in rice.


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