Alarming levels of arsenic in rice, test says


It's a tested product, but Consumer Reports' tests of 32 rices and dozens of rice products found that they all contained arsenic.

Lab tests showed many of the samples had troubling levels of inorganic arsenic - the most toxic form.

"Inorganic arsenic is a known human carcinogen that has been linked to skin, lung and bladder cancer," said Andrea Rock of Consumer Reports.

There are federal limits for the amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water, but none for rice and most other foods.

Consumer Reports' investigation also found there was often more arsenic in brown rice than in white.

"We aren't able to draw conclusions about specific brands because our tests are limited. But the analysis we did of government data shows that for Americans who eat rice, it is a significant source of arsenic exposure," Rock said.

The USA Rice Federation, an industry trade group, insists "There is no documented evidence of actual adverse health effects from exposure to arsenic in U.S.-grown rice."

However, even a small amount may be damaging, Rock said.

"We already know that even low levels of arsenic exposure increase your risk of cancer and other health problems," she said. "We don't want to alarm people, but we do recommend that you limit the amount of rice that you eat."

Research shows that rinsing rice thoroughly and cooking it in lots of water as you do with pasta can reduce arsenic levels.

For babies, Consumer Reports recommends no more than a quarter of a cup of rice cereal per day. Oatmeal, wheat or corn cereal, is lower in arsenic.

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