(PCM) According to a new study from Consumer Reports, rice produced in the United States contains high levels of arsenic – “worrisome” levels, in fact – and it’s found in just about everything. Researchers reported elevated levels of the toxic chemical a variety of everyday foods, including organic rice baby cereal, farina, rice cakes, and certain “trusty” brands like Rice Krispies and Uncle Ben’s products.
“In virtually every product tested, we found measurable amounts of total arsenic in its two forms. We found significant levels of inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen, in almost every product category, along with organic arsenic, which is less toxic but still of concern,” the report says. “Though rice isn’t the only dietary source of arsenic–some vegetables, fruits, and even water can harbor it–the Environmental Protection Agency assumes there is actually no ‘safe’ level of exposure to inorganic arsenic.”
There is no federal limit for arsenic in most foods, but the standard for drinking water is 10 parts per billion (ppb). Yet, test results found uncooked rice grains from several different brands contained between 40 and 200 parts per billion. “Worrisome” arsenic levels were also detected in infant cereals, which raises a concern of developmental impairment. Gerber SmartNourish Organic Brown Rice cereal had samples ranging ranging from 97.7 ppb and 329 ppb – the highest level of total arsenic in the category.
A few important highlights from the report:
- White rice grown in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas, which account for 76 percent of domestic rice, generally had higher levels of total arsenic and inorganic arsenic in tests than rice samples from elsewhere.
- Within any single brand of rice tested, the average total and inorganic arsenic levels were always higher for brown rice than for white.
- People who ate rice had arsenic levels that were 44 percent greater than those who had not, according to their analysis of federal health data. And certain ethnic groups were more highly affected, including Mexicans, other Hispanics, and a broad category that includes Asians.
What can parents do?
“To reduce arsenic risks, we recommend that babies eat no more than 1 serving of infant rice cereal per day on average. And their diets should include cereals made of wheat, oatmeal, or corn grits, which contain significantly lower levels of arsenic, according to federal information,” researchers reported.
For more information, read the full Consumer Report here.
photo courtesy Consumer Report