On September 6, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement after testing over 1,300 rice products for the presence of arsenic. The tests follow research indicating that rice products contained unsafe levels of arsenic. Arsenic is naturally present in the environment, but also results from human activity, including coal mining. While only trace amounts can be found in water, air, and soil, the concentration can accumulate in particularly absorbent crops, like rice.
The FDA sampled various types of rice grain, including white, jasmine, basmati, and brown, as well as rice products, including infant and toddler cereals, pasta, grain-based bars, desserts, and rice wine. The average level of inorganic arsenic ranged from 2.6 to 7.2 micrograms per serving; brown rice had the highest concentrations. While the FDA does not regulate arsenic in food, these levels are below the EPA’s limit of 10 ppb in drinking water, and are therefore not likely to cause acute health effects.
The results are part of a 20 year study to assess the risks associated with consumption of U.S. consumer products containing arsenic. The FDA will use the data in a study to study the long-term health effects associated with the consumption of rice products.