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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 14:14 EDT

Rice Products Contain High Levels Of Arsenic

September 19, 2012
Image Credit: Photos.com

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

In recent years, we´ve seen a number of warnings against eating the kinds of foods we always thought were good for us. We´ve been warned against eating peanuts, spinach and even tomatoes: All foods that, under normal circumstances we would be encouraged to partake of.

Today, consumer advocate group Consumer Reports has issued a new warning about a food which has sustained human life for generation upon generation. According to the new report, high levels of arsenic have been found in rice and rice products, including baby foods, cereals and milks. This isn´t the first time Consumer Reports has cried foul; In January, the magazine called out apple and grape juices for containing arsenic, in an article titled: “How much is too much? Federal limits don’t exist.”

“We recently tested more than 200 samples of a host of rice products,” writes Consumer Reports in their latest piece.

“They included iconic labels and store brands, organic products and conventional ones; some were aimed at the booming gluten-free market. The results of our tests were even more troubling in some ways than our findings for juice.”

According to their study, measurable amounts of arsenic were found in “virtually every” product tested by CR, including “significant” levels of inorganic arsenic. Organic arsenic was also found in each of these products, though the report says the levels of organic arsenic is less concerning than those of inorganic arsenic.

The team studied white rice grown in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas to conduct their research. According to their data, the team found white rice from these areas had higher levels of inorganic arsenic and higher total arsenic levels than rice from anywhere else. CR says this is disturbing, as 76% of all domestic rice comes from these paddies in the Midwest and Southern regions.

The team also found that total levels of arsenic were always higher in brown rice than in white rice. Though normally a healthier option, brown rice hasn´t gone through the same processing as the white variety. This processing removes the outer hulls of the rice, which is where arsenic is most likely to be found.

The USA Rice Federation isn´t disputing CR’s claims, though they are saying these results are being blown out of proportion, especially considering the lack of evidence of any illness linked to rice.

Speaking to ABC´s Good Morning America, Dr. James R. Coughlin, founder of independent toxicology consulting company Coughlin & Associates said: “These are very, very low levels.”

“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.”

Dr. Coughlin and his federation work for the USA Rice Federation.

Consumer Reports goes on to blame the levels of arsenic in the food on the Chicken and Pork industries, saying these animals are fed arsenic, which is then passed to the manure and then later used to fertilize the rice fields.

“Chickens in the United States produced for meat are not given arsenic as an additive in chicken feed,” said Tom Super, vice president of communications with the National Chicken Council in a statement.

“Some flocks used to be given feed that contained a product called Roxarsone, which included safe levels of organic arsenic. Even though the science shows that such low levels of arsenic do not harm chickens or the people eating them, this product was removed from the market last year, it is no longer manufactured and it is no longer used in raising chickens in the United States.”

As far as the FDA is concerned, America´s rice continues to be safe.

“Based on the available data and scientific literature the FDA is not recommending changes by consumers regarding their consumption of rice and rice products,” reads a statement.

“Our advice for consumers is to eat a balanced diet including a wide variety of grains, not only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food.”


Source: Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online