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white medium grain rice

Why Does Rice Contain High-Levels of Arsenic?

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(PTF) – Rice arsenic levels are high enough to begin sounding alarms in the health and food politics groups in the United States. Dr. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM has recently amplified his research and study into arsenic levels of rice and rice products found in our food supply.

Greger, of NutritionFacts.org, has several recent articles and YouTube videos stating the hazards of rice and arsenic. He also has the research to back up his claims.

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According to Greger, there are hundreds of times the acceptable cancer risk found in 5 servings of rice per week. [1] The arsenic originated from the practice of spraying cotton fields in the early 1900’s with arsenic based pesticides.

Though arsenic containing pesticides are not used anymore, the arsenic remains in the soil. Since rice absorbs the arsenic readily, farmers have planted rice in the fields for the sake of removing arsenic from the soil.

These absorption crops are marked to be destroyed, yet some end up being sold to animal farmers which the arsenic then finds its way into the animals and consumed throughout the food chain.

The USA Rice Federation communicated a statement including “rice as an unsafe product is not only inaccurate in the highest degree, but [is] maliciously untrue,”

Greger states on his website that one rice company, Lundberg Family Farms is working with FDA scientists in testing samples of the many varieties of rice in its supply.

FDA Researching Arsenic Rice

FDA Scientist Researching Arsenic in Texas Rice Fields

Lundberg.com is quoted from their website publishing “We remain committed to invest time and resources in this testing plan to provide you with meaningful data.” [2] Charts of arsenic levels in their rice are shown on their website.

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Greger refers to a 2012 study by Consumer Reports [3] that shows Whole Foods, Wal-Mart’s Great Value and Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice having the highest amounts of arsenic in the 65 products tested.

Brown and dark grain rice carry the most arsenic.

 

Greger’s concern is that products such as rice cakes and rice milk also contain dangerous levels of arsenic and has urged his readers to avoid most of these products until further tests and studies arrive.

In 2014, Consumer Reports revisited their 2012 article with updates to regions that have the highest arsenic rice. The southern United States was the leader in arsenic levels for rice production throughout the world. [4]

Organic rice seems to have no benefit when arsenic level testing occurs. Do to 30,000 tons of arsenic laden pesticides used over 30 years ago, the contamination is in the soil.

Arsenic resistant rice is specifically bred in the southern U.S., grown primarily in the 3 million acres of previous cotton fields.

References:
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2016. May 13, 2014 Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products Risk Assessment Report (Revised March 2016).
  2. Lundberg Family Farms. Arsenic Testing Results.
  3. Consumer Reports Arsenic in Food November 2012_1.pdf.
  4. Consumer Reports Issues New Consumption Guidelines Based On Analysis of Arsenic Levels in Rice Products & Other Grains.

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