Is arsenic in rice something you should be worried about?
I never know what to say about food contaminants consumed in tiny amounts, in this case, micrograms (millionths of grams) per serving.
Higher levels—11 micrograms per serving—were found in three samples from Texas, Louisiana and California. The highest was 30 micrograms per serving of hot ready-to-eat rice bran cereal.
Is this good, bad, or indifferent? And how would we know?
The FDA says such levels are too low to cause concern about short-term health problems.
But Consumers Union thinks the real issue is the long-term effects.
Today’s widely-reported message on arsenic levels in rice misses the point. The issue is not the short-term risks of rice consumption. The concern is the long-term effects from exposure to arsenic in rice. As Consumer Reports has said in the past, consumers should not ignore the potential risks from consuming rice and rice products over a long period of time…Consumers are not well-served if they do not have the full story. The concerns about long-term effects are significant and warrant the FDA’s decision to investigate further.
The FDA says it plans further investigations. In the meantime, it says you should:
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Vary your grains.
- Consider diversifying infant foods
This is always good advice.
But Consumers Union is more specific. It suggests you worry a little and observe these limits:
At the moment, this is the best information available. FDA: get to work!
- FDA Statement on Testing and Analysis of Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products
- Consumer Update: FDA Explores Impact of Arsenic in Rice
- Updated Questions & Answers: Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products