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.

500 Foods Contain Azodicarbonamide

You won’t find azodicarbonamide in Nature’s Own products.

Almost 500 Foods Contain The ‘Yoga Mat’ Compound. Should We Care?
March 06, 2014

That compound found in commercially baked bread — yep, the one that’s in yoga mats, too — is in the news again.

A report from the Environmental Working Group finds that the compound, azodicarbonamide, is found in close to 500 food products, from Pillsbury Dinner Rolls to Little Debbie products to Wonder Bread.

As you may recall, the sandwich chain Subway got a lot of attention a few weeks back when it announced its plans to remove this compound — which is used to improve dough and maintain bread texture — from its bread.

Why nobody knows what’s really going into your food

Why nobody knows what’s really going into your food  
The Center for Public Integrity
Apr 13, 2015

Why doesn’t government know what’s in your food? Because industry can declare on their own that added ingredients are safe without ever consulting the Food and Drug Administration about potential health risks.

Why The FDA Has Never Looked At Some Of The Additives In Our Food
April 14, 2015

Banned Drugs in Dietary Supplements

Presence of Banned Drugs in Dietary Supplements Following FDA Recalls
JAMA. 2014;312(16):1691-1693.
Pieter A. Cohen, MD, et al.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initiates class I drug recalls when products have the reasonable possibility of causing serious adverse health consequences or death.1 Recently, the FDA has used class I drug recalls in an effort to remove dietary supplements adulterated with pharmaceutical ingredients from US markets. Approximately half of all FDA class I drug recalls since 2004 have involved dietary supplements adulterated with banned pharmaceutical ingredients.

journalistic version:

Carcinogen In Colas Has FDA Reviewing Data

Potential Carcinogen In Colas Has FDA Reviewing Data
January 23, 2014

A new study from Consumer Reports finds varying levels of a chemical compound classified as a possible human carcinogen in many popular brands of soda.

The findings have prompted the Food and Drug Administration to take a new look at the compound, 4-methylimidazole — or 4-MEI for short. It is found in the caramel color that soda makers use to dye the drinks brown.

Under California’s Prop 65, the chemical is included on a state list of substances that can cause cancer. An arm of the World Health Organization has classified 4-MEI as a possible carcinogen.

Testing by Consumer Reports found very low levels of 4-MEI in Coca-Cola, Coke Zero and Diet Coke.
As we’ve reported, 4-MEI was greatly reduced in Coke products after Coke worked with its supplier to reformulate the caramel manufacturing process.

But the study did find higher levels of the compound in some Pepsi products, particularly in Pepsi One. During an eight-month period, the researchers purchased a dozen 12-ounce servings of Pepsi One from different batches at stores in California.

Drinking Water Not Tested For Tens Of Thousands Of Chemicals

Drinking Water Not Tested For Tens Of Thousands Of Chemicals
January 24, 2014

The fact that a second contaminant in West Virginia’s drinking water eluded detection for nearly two weeks — despite intense testing of the water — reveals an important truth about how companies test drinking water: In most cases, they only find the contaminants they’re looking for.

Freedom Industries earlier this week revealed it had spilled two chemicals, not just one. The second chemical is PPH, a mixture of polygycol ethers. It was combined with first contaminant — 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, or MCHM — a chemical that washes coal.

there’s an important takeaway here for water companies that face chemical spills in the future: “Learn to not take the information that you’re given at face value.”

Trans Fats Linger In Food

When Zero Doesn’t Mean Zero: Trans Fats Linger In Food
August 28, 2014

back in November 2013, the Food and Drug Administration announced it was intending to ban partially hydrogenated vegetable oils from all food products. The proposed ban seemed prudent, since eating foods with trans fats has been linked to heart disease, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an FDA ban could prevent an additional 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year and as many as 20,000 heart attacks in that period.

But the FDA has yet to issue a final rule requiring food companies to eliminate trans fats entirely.

While many food companies have found affordable alternatives to partially hydrogenated oil, 1 in 10 packaged foods still contain it, according to researchers at the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“A lot people think it’s out of the food supply, but it’s still in a lot of places,”

The Maillard Reaction

The Maillard Reaction
May 19, 2011
Believe it or not, steak, coffee beans, caramel, and toast have something in common.
It’s called The Maillard Reaction and it is the reason that things get browned when they are heated.
There’s much more to this process, however, and Dr. Kiki is here to explain what’s going on in your kitchen.

Remember ‘French Fries Cause Cancer’? Here’s The Acrylamide Update
November 21, 2013

last week, when the FDA issued its first draft guidance for industry on how to minimize acrylamide in food products. At the same time, the agency also offered consumers tips on how to reduce their intake at home — such as frying food less often or toasting bread to light, rather than dark, brown.

But here’s the real head scratc her: In the years since that first scare, researchers have studied acrylamide in humans, and they haven’t confirmed those initial cancer concerns. So why is the FDA acting now?

Acrylamide, it turns out, turns up in foods (mostly plant-based ones) when they are fried, baked or otherwise cooked at high temperatures. It forms from sugars and an amino acid naturally found in food, as part of the Maillard Reaction (that’s the chemical reaction that transforms the flavor and color of food when cooked). In other words, it has been in our foods probably for as long as we’ve been cooking, but we didn’t know it until a little over a decade ago. (Acrylamide, by the way, is also a known neurotoxin in humans, but the WHO says the levels found in food don’t pose a concern on that front.)

Of course, cancer epidemiology is one of the toughest areas of research — it’s notoriously hard to show cause and effect.

But most of the human studies published so far have failed to find any links between dietary acrylamide and various types of cancers.

“We found a suggestion that it might increase ovarian and endometrial cancer, but we found nothing for breast and nothing for prostate,” Wilson says.