US Study Finds “Worrisome” Arsenic Levels in Rice - And Some Cooking Tips to Possibly Lessen Risk of Arsenic in Rice

By Sharon Moore on October 15, 2012

For Asian and Spanish cuisine lovers, having rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner is inevitable. But just recently, a study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Reports reveals that most popular rice products contain “worrisome” levels of arsenic – a substance that cause cancer in humans.

Since then, the Consumer Reports has been warning the public from eating more rice, especially children. However, according to the FDA, there is no need to advice limiting rice consumption unless more science-based studies have been made. The agency is about to test 1,200 rice samples by the end of this year.

It is a known fact that inorganic arsenic is categorised under class A carcinogens. However, study critics say that there is no large-scale epidemiological research that identified arsenic found in rice as a source of cancer in humans.

Rice-cooking techniques to reduce arsenic

But as they say, it’s better to be vigilant than expose one’s health to potential threats. Until the FDA has ruled out standard recommendations regarding rice consumption, experts suggest some cooking techniques that could reduce arsenic in rice:


  ●  Rinse it thoroughly. Some studies reveal that thoroughly rinsing rice reduces its arsenic content by 25-30 percent. The FDA recommends 5 to six washes or until the water becomes clear. But according to John Duxbury of Cornell University, consumers should check if their local water supply has high levels of arsenic. If it’s less than ten parts per billion, he said its okay. Otherwise, it will make things worse. However, experts also warned that rinsing rice is likely to reduce the nutrients it contains.

  ●  Add more water when cooking. Michael Hansen, senior staff of the Consumer Reports, recommends using about 6 parts of water to one part of rice when cooking, and draining the excess water off after (just like cooking pasta). He says that rinsing and cooking rice reduces its arsenic level by 50 to 60 percent.

  ●  Consider cutting down on brown rice. Although it has high nutritional value and is a major source of fibre, it may have more arsenic contents as compared to other rice varieties since the bran remains intact to the grain.

  ●   Favour aromatic rice products. Varieties of aromatic rice have the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic, studies reveal.

  ●   Avoid feeding babies with too much rice meal and rice milk. On a test conducted on rice cereals for babies, the Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office found that they all contain inorganic arsenic. They recommend limiting baby’s consumption of rice cereals for not more than once a day.



Source of this article:

Cooking tips to possibly lessen risk of arsenic in rice, Chicago Tribune

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