Arsenic in rice doesn’t appear to pose a health risk in the short term, reports the Food and Drug Administration. This claim was made this week after testing 1,300 samples of rice and finding arsenic in levels that meet the FDA standards. According to the Christian Science Monitor on Sept. 6, it is the long term health risk that is not known today. .
The FDA tested the rice for total arsenic and inorganic arsenic, which is the type of arsenic that has been linked to cancer. The levels of arsenic found in rice ranged from 2.6 and 7.2 micrograms per serving. Instant rice had lower levels of arsenic with brown rice having levels on the higher end.
Products made from rice, such as baby formula, showed lower levels of arsenic with 0.1 to 6.6 micrograms per serving. Just how much rice a person would need to consume for it to affect your health is unknown, but the levels of arsenic in the rice and rice products are within the range found acceptable by the FDA.
Arsenic appears in rice naturally and pesticides may add to the level. Rice grows in water, which also contains arsenic, so rice does have more arsenic in it than other foods, reports Suzanne C. Fitzpatrick, the senior advisor for toxicology in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
A study published in 2011 showed that eating just a little over a half of a cup of cooked rice you take on as much arsenic as you would after drinking 34 ounces (one liter) of water containing the maximum amount of arsenic allowed by the federal limit.
The amount of rice that you would need to consume for it to affect your health is unknown. In an interview from 2011, Christopher States, a toxicologist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, said that "it's thought that 10 grams of arsenic over a lifetime would increase the risk of diseases such as cancer," according to the Christian Science Monitor. He also said because of the levels of arsenic in rice today, you'd have to eat "a ton" of rice for it to reach the 10 gram level.