FDA Releases Findings of Arsenic Levels in Rice
By Wendy Osher
The US Food and Drug Administration released findings of a study conducted to find out how much arsenic is in the rice we eat.
The results represent the first analytical findings for the agency, and were based on testing of nearly 200 samples of rice and rice products.
Analysis of the initial samples found average levels of 3.5 to 6.7 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per serving.
FDA officials say the preliminary data does not reveal what health effect, if any, these levels may have, nor what can be done to reduce these levels.
The FDA says long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic is associated with higher rates of skin, bladder, and lung cancers, as well as heart disease. According to the FDA, while most other crops don’t readily take up much arsenic from the ground, rice is different because it takes up arsenic from soil and water more readily than other grains.
“We understand that consumers are concerned about this matter. That’s why the FDA has prioritized analyzing arsenic levels in rice. The FDA is committed to ensuring that we understand 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,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. in a media statement.
“Our advice right now is that consumers should 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,” said Hamburg.
The FDA is collecting and analyzing more than 1,000 additional samples, and will post more results as they become available. The FDA is aiming to complete the additional collection and analysis of samples in the next several months, by the end of 2012.
Officials called the data collection and analysis “a critical, but first, step to assessing risk and minimizing risk.”