In the News: Arsenic in Rice Products

Consumer Reports published a report on September 19, 2012 concerning the amount of arsenic found in foods made from rice. Arsenic is a common metal that occurs naturally in the environment, and exists in both organic and inorganic forms. The inorganic form is toxic and carcinogenic. Along with occurring naturally, inorganic arsenic is also used for industrial purposes such as pest control, wood preservation, animal antimicrobial treatment, etc. which can lead to increased levels in the environment (water, soil, atmosphere).

Increased levels in the environment by way of natural occurrence and industrial purposes may lead to increased levels in food and water supply. The report published by Consumer Reports found measurable sources of both forms of arsenic in 223 samples of rice products (crackers, cereals, brown and white rice). There are currently no FDA standards to limit the amount of arsenic in foods, although there are FDA limits for the amount in drinking water. The concern with this finding is that the presence of organic arsenic in commonly consumed foods may increase the lifetime risk of cancer.

Currently, more investigation needs to be done before any recommendations regarding the amount of rice products consumed are made. The FDA is currently studying the levels of arsenic in foods, and we eagerly await these findings. The FDA does not recommend any changes in current intake for rice products based on this preliminary information. Based on this report, the American Academy of Pediatrics continues to encourage a well balanced diet with a variety of foods offered to children, including rice, oatmeal, wheat products, fruits, vegetables and meat.

For more information, please see the following links:

Consumer Reports:

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