The FDA Finds Arsenic In Rice
- Thursday, 20 September 2012
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released preliminary data on arsenic levels in certain rice and rice products. Consumer Reports also released the findings of its analysis of arsenic in rice. The FDA admitted, in a press release, that its data is "consistent with results that Consumer Reports published today." The FDA collected data from 200 samples of rice and rice products, and is still collecting and analyzing samples. The federal agency plans to obtain and analyze approximately 1,200 samples.
Unfortunately, the FDA would not issue recommendations for consumers about the consumption of rice and rice products. "Based on the currently available data and scientific literature the FDA does not have an adequate scientific basis to recommend changes by consumers regarding their consumption of rice and rice products," the FDA press release states."
"We understand that consumers are concerned about this matter," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg. "That’s why the FDA has prioritized analyzing arsenic levels in rice."
Hamburg assured that the FDA is "committed" to finding out the "extent to which substances such as arsenic are present in our foods, what risks they may pose, whether these risks can be minimized, and to sharing what we know." Hamburg advised that consumers "continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains – not only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food." She did not recommend that consumers avoid eating rice and rice products.
"It is critical to not get ahead of the science,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor. "The FDA's ongoing data collection and other assessments will give us a solid scientific basis for determining what action levels and/or other steps are needed to reduce exposure to arsenic in rice and rice products."
Consumer Reports does not have a problem with recommending that consumers eat less rice. "We think that consumers ought to take steps to moderate their consumption," said Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports.
The Organic Trade Association recommended in a statement that consumers do the following:
- Don't rely too heavily on one type of food, which minimizes the risks one particular kind of food can have on your health.
- Keep in mind that infants, pregnant women and nursing mothers are more significantly impacted.
- Know where your food comes from, and if in doubt, contact the persons or companies who produced it.
Presently, federal limits do not exist for arsenic levels in rice. There should be federal limits. Sign the petition that asks the FDA to set limits, and make your voice heard.
Photo Credit: Flickr user, cookbookman17
Gina-Marie Cheeseman is a freelance writer/journalist armed with a passion for healthy living and a degree in journalism. Hailing from the dry, sunny Central San Joaquin Valley of California, she has not let the heat fry her brain. To contact Gina-Marie, visit her website: http://gina-mariecheeseman.com.