Arsenic Found in Rice and Other Grains

Tests by Consumer Reports have revealed varying levels of arsenic contained in several rice products available in grocery stores today. Various types of rice, such as basmati, jasmine, and sushi rice, have been tested for inorganic arsenic which is much more dangerous than the organic type which is found in the environment. Basmati rice from Pakistan, California, and India contained the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic. Additionally, brown rice, which is higher in nutrients, was shown to have higher arsenic levels in it than the white rice tested. According to Consumer Reports, other grains like quinoa, millet, amaranth and barley contain lower toxicity levels.

Traces of arsenic are present in many foods including grains, fruits and vegetables,” says Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC News health and nutrition editor. “Tiny amounts come from the plant absorbing arsenic from the soil —rice absorbs it more easily than most foods do.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that rice can be consumed safely. The FDA is monitoring levels of arsenic and other toxic elements in consumer goods. Exposure to arsenic over a long period of time may lead to bladder, lung, and skin cancer. Consumer Reports researchers are now asking the FDA to set limitations for arsenic levels in rice and fruit juices. On Tuesday, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut), stated her support for the Consumer Reports findings, saying “the federal government must [do] more to ensure our food supply is safe.”

According to Consumer Reports, it is also possible to lower arsenic levels by thoroughly rinsing rice before cooking it (use about six cups of water to one cup of rice). This should remove approximately 30 percent of inorganic arsenic from the rice, according to researchers.

Read more here – “How Much Arsenic is in Your Rice?” (Consumer Reports).

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Anna is a current student at The George Washington University in Washington, DC with a concentration in Marketing and Communication. She specializes in social media outreach and has experience working in government contracting.

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