Have you heard that rice is unsafe to eat because it contains arsenic?
Someone recently asked me about this so I did a little research and thought I’d share my findings with you.
Is there arsenic in rice?
First thing you need to know is that long-term exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic is associated with high rates of cancer.
Two years ago, Dr. Oz set off an alarm about arsenic in apple juice, then concern about arsenic in rice was sparked, and even more recently, researchers found concerning levels arsenic in chicken from an arsenic-based drug. In reality, there are low levels of arsenic in many foods.
Like most foods, there is no limit established for how much arsenic in rice is considered safe. However, the federal limit for bottled and public water is 10 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per liter.
Consumer Reports released a study in September 2012 that looked at the levels of arsenic in 62 rice products. They found inorganic arsenic levels as high as 9.6 micrograms per serving of rice (1/4 uncooked).
They also found that levels where higher in brown rice than white rice. This is likely because the arsenic is more concentrated in the outer layers of the grain that are removed in the processing of white rice.
Is rice safe to eat?
In response to the Consumer Reports study, the FDA commissioned a study to determine whether more stringent regulations were necessary. The FDA found levels of arsenic that supported the findings of Consumer Reports.
Here are a few of the Consumer Reports findings:
- One brand of brown rice had 9.6 micrograms per serving of rice (1/4 uncooked).
- Rice pasta and rice syrup had levels close those found in whole rice.
- Most other rice products such as rice cereal, rice milk, and rice crackers had lower levels.
- Levels in infant rice cereal were found to be between 0.8 and 2.7 micrograms per serving (1/4 cup uncooked).
- Remember, the limit for arsenic in water is 10 micrograms per liter.
Based on the data, the FDA does not recommend people change their consumption of rice.
What do I need to know?
Rice, especially whole grain brown rice, provides a number of key nutrients and offers a variety of health benefits. However, as with everything else, moderation is key. It is best to consume a wide variety of grains throughout the week.