FDA Advice on Arsenic in Rice

FDA this week recommended that consumers not change their consumption of rice and rice products at this time, and that people eat a balanced diet containing a wide variety of grains.  This recommendation was based on the results of arsenic analyses by the agency of over 200 rice-containing foods.

Arsenic is a heavy metal that, depending upon the chemical form, can cause adverse health effects such as cancer in humans.  Inorganic arsenic is considered the most toxic form, although there also has been some evidence suggesting that certain organic forms of arsenic may also have toxicity.

Consumer Reports recently published an article detailing its findings from analysis of 223 rice-containing foods for arsenic.  The samples covered a variety of rice-containing food categories, including infant cereals, hot cereals, ready-to-eat cereals, rice cakes, and rice crackers.  Among the recommendations stated in the article, Consumers Union believes a standard for arsenic should be set for rice, and industry should accelerate efforts to reduce arsenic levels in rice.

The FDA reported that it has analyzed nearly 200 samples of rice and rice products and is collecting about 1,000 more. Since rice is processed into many products, these samples FDA tested included rice products such as cereals, rice beverages and rice cakes.

FDA has released the results of its initial testing, giving examples of inorganic arsenic found in individual samples. FDA is not recommending that consumers change their consumption of rice and rice products at this time, but that people eat a balanced diet containing a wide variety of grains.  FDA summarized its findings and advice in this article which was published on September 19, 2012.

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About Les Bourquin

Professor and Food Safety Specialist Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition Michigan State University
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