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Issue Date: Vol. 52, No. 10, October 2012, Posted On: 9/20/2012

Consumer Reports Investigation Finds 'Significant' Levels Of Arsenic In Rice Products

Emily Jed
TAGS: vending, foodservice, Consumer Reports, Arsenic in rice, rice products

CLEVELAND -- Consumer Reports is urging U.S. regulators to set limits for arsenic in rice after an investigation by the independent product testing group found "significant" levels of the known carcinogen in rice and many products made from the popular grain.

The magazine's tests of dozens of brown and white rices and rice products -- ranging from cereal to rice cakes -- found that all contained arsenic in both inorganic and organic forms. Inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen that has been linked to a variety of cancers, including skin, lung and bladder, as well as heart disease and other illnesses. Organic arsenic is believed to be less harmful, but some forms are classified as possible carcinogens, Consumer Reports said.

The investigation found there was often more arsenic in brown rice than in white, because arsenic is concentrated in its outer layers, which are removed to make white rice.

Arsenic appears naturally in soil, but Consumer Reports says levels have been increased by use of pesticides, fertilizer and animal feed that contain it.

There are federal limits for the amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water, but there are none for rice and most other foods. The consumer advocacy group is calling on the government to set limits on arsenic in food and ban its use in agriculture.

FDA said it has concerns about arsenic in rice and is studying the issue, but in the meantime has no recommendation for consumers to limit their intake.

The magazine suggests that consumers limit themselves to one serving a day, especially for babies. It also suggests rinsing and then boiling rice in a 6 to 1 water ratio to remove about one-third of the arsenic.

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