Arsenic in rice: Consuming more than a half-cup of cooked rice per day (including organic rice baby cereal, rice breakfast cereals, brown rice, white rice, and any other rice product) can result in an increase in urinary arsenic levels, skin, bladder and lung cancers, as well as heart disease. No federal limit exists for arsenic in most foods, including rice, fruits, fruit juices, and vegetables. On Sept. 6, 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a “Questions & Answers: Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products” report after findings that rice and rice products contain arsenic.
“To help consumers understand arsenic levels in rice, on September 6, 2013, 2013, FDA released the results of approximately 1,100 samples of rice and rice products examined for the presence of arsenic. The announcement followed the release in September 2012 of a preliminary set of analytical results of nearly 200 samples of rice products tested for arsenic. Taken together, these approximately 1,300 samples comprise the largest data set available on arsenic in rice and rice products and provide a strong foundation for FDA’s work going forward. FDA is conducting a risk assessment as the next step in a process to help manage possible risks associated with the consumption of rice and rice products.”
The over 1,700-word FDA article can be summarized in four major points:
- Arsenic is present in rice.
- Because of arsenic in rice, the FDA recommends not to eat too much rice and to eat a variety of other foods.
- The presence of arsenic in rice is not considered by the FDA (and rice producers) to have any immediate or short-term effects.
- The FDA says it does not know about the long-term effects of arsenic in rice; at least not yet.
According to the FDA’s article on arsenic in rice, the FDA has “met with industry organizations, rice companies, and consumer groups to help us better understand the production, manufacturing and sourcing of rice and other information relative to arsenic in rice and rice products.”
Behind the scenes, the FDA has worked with the USA Rice Federation and major rice producers in responding to a November 2012 Consumer Report article that warned about arsenic in rice and the FDA’s failure to respond to the health issues associated with arsenic in rice.
According to a JTNews19 report, “Arsenic in rice: FDA says arsenic is found in rice and to limit consumption of rice. Where does arsenic in rice come from?” arsenic in rice is a result of having treated crops heavily with arsenical pesticides for decades.
While the FDA claims to help people better understand arsenic in rice, it is merely saying not to eat too much rice, that there are no immediate or short-term health effects, and that long-term health effects of arsenic in rice still have to be researched.
By the time the FDA will publish a “Questions & Answers: Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products” article including the long-term effects of arsenic in rice, many people will already know about it because they are dealing with bladder and kidney problems.