I’m on a panel for the NYAS’s conference on Conflicts of Interest in Healthcare: Opportunities for Self-Reflection and Action, June 24-25. Location: 7 World Trade Center. 250 Greenwich St, 40th Floor. Information and registration are here. My panel is on the 25th at 10:45 a.m. , Session VI: Hot topic discussion: getting to the truth in nutrition science. Other panelists are Mona Calvo fro Penn State, Mehmood Khan from Life Biosciences, and Linda Van Horn from Northwestern. Moderator is Julia Belluz from Vox.
Arsenic in rice: another food issue to worry about?
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!