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Arsenic in rice – levels too low to worry

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FDA recently completed a study on arsenic in rice and found what most people in the rice industry already knew. Rice is safe to eat.

Unfortunately, researchers at Consumer Reports refuse to acknowledge FDA findings, and are still calling for U.S. consumers to moderate their consumption of rice.

An FDA study confirms what the rice industry has known for years, that it is far healthier for Americans to enjoy rice and foods made with rice than it is for them to eliminate or cut back on consumption because miniscule amounts of arsenic might exist at levels far below what is considered harmful.

FDA recently posted the results of testing for the presence of arsenic in approximately 1,300 samples of rice and rice products. This includes around 200 samples of rice and rice products the FDA initially tested and released the findings for in September 2012.

The FDA found that while levels varied significantly depending on the product tested, scientists determined that the amount of detectable arsenic “is too low in the rice and rice product samples to cause any immediate or short-term adverse health effects. FDA stated that it will continue to assess the potential health risk from long-term exposure to arsenic in rice, and rice foods.”

Actually, FDA has been monitoring arsenic levels in rice for more than 20 years and says it has seen no evidence of change in levels of total arsenic in rice, even with tools that provide greater specificity about the different types of arsenic present in foods.

During this time, people have continued to enjoy the healthful and tasty commodity with no ill effects. The fact that per capita consumption of rice has risen to 21 pounds per capita is actually the best evidence there is for the safety of rice and rice products.

This apparently did not occur to Urvashi Rangan, the lead scientist for a Consumer Reports study which last year found arsenic in rice at “worrisome” levels. Rangan spent a week last fall bashing rice and spreading her alarmist views around the world, even recommending that consumers moderate their consumption of various rice products so that they can mitigate their risk.

It didn’t matter that Korea would use her scare tactics to construct an artificial trade barrier for imports of U.S. rice. She didn’t care that people are trying to make a living growing rice, and exports are key to that effort.

After the latest FDA findings, released Sept. 6, 2013, she continues to recommend that consumers “moderate” their consumption of rice, which FDA did not advise. Nor did she mention that FDA’s recommendations after its study were essentially unchanged from those it had issued prior the study.

FDA’s advice for consumers is for all consumers “to eat a well-balanced diet for good nutrition and to minimize potential adverse consequences from consuming an excess of any one food.”

Hopefully, Consumer Reports can focus on something else. Maybe imported catfish?

 

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