Consumer Reports is warning Americans to limit how much rice they eat because of concerns over arsenic.
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According to a study, rice eaten just once a day can drive arsenic levels in the human body up 44 percent. The FDA is expected to announce it’s concerns about rice and arsenic and is in the process of studying the issue.
“We think that consumers ought to take steps to moderate their consumption,” said Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports tested many forms of rice for arsenic, from cereal for babies and adults, to brown and white whole grain, pasta and drinks.
More than 60 rice and rice products were tested overall, including name brands.
Many contained what the magazine calls “worrisome levels of arsenic”— some products had up to five times higher levels than the arsenic found in oatmeal and one and a half times more than EPA’s legal standard for drinking water.
The researchers also found geographical distinctions in arsenic levels, with white rice grown in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas, containing higher levels than rice samples from other parts of the country. Those four states account for 76 percent of domestic rice produced.
Inorganic arsenic is considered a level one carcinogen, linked to lung and bladder cancer.
The USA rice federation does not dispute the findings, but says the results are overblown since there is no documented evidence of actual illness linked to rice.
“These are very, very low levels,” Dr James R. Coughlin, president and founder of Coughlin & Associates, an independent toxicology consulting company for the USA Rice Federation, said. “Rice is a safe and nutritious food and in fact people who consume rice more frequently in their diets are actually healthier than other Americans.”