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Report: 'Worrisome' levels of arsenic in rice
September 19th, 2012
03:37 PM ET

Report: 'Worrisome' levels of arsenic in rice

Eating rice once a day can increase arsenic levels in the body by at least 44%, according to a new study from Consumer Reports.

The study surveyed more than 60 different rice products ranging from infant cereals to rice pasta and rice drinks and found “worrisome” levels of inorganic arsenic in most of the products. Others suggest, however, the levels are not cause for concern.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, inorganic arsenic has been linked to liver, bladder, and lung cancer.

Urvashi Rangan, Consumer Reports lead scientist on the study, said the study isn’t meant to scare people from eating rice, rather “our investigation of arsenic in rice is supposed to inform consumers.”

Rangan said, “We wanted to help consumers at least be able to take action for themselves in terms of moderating themselves. We asked the government to set standards.”

The Consumer Reports study found that white rice had lower levels of arsenic compared to brown rice, and that rice grown in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas, generally had higher levels of arsenic.

Currently, there are no federal standards for arsenic levels in food, but the Environmental Protection Agency has a federal standard for arsenic in drinking water. New Jersey has even more stringent standards, allowing just half the amount of arsenic allowed by the EPA.

Almost 40% of the products tested exceeded the New Jersey limits, but all were in line with federal limits for drinking water.

But "the levels are low," said Jim Coughlin, an independent toxicologist who has consulted for the USA Rice Federation in the past. "If we're going to eat, there's going to be arsenic in all our foods. It's found in fruits, vegetables and grains, and rice falls in the category. You've got to eat, and I think rice is a safe and nutritious food."

“Rice has always been considered a nutritious food and an important part of a healthy diet," the USA Rice Federation said in a statement. "We’ve been made aware of concerns about the level of arsenic in rice, but are not aware of any established studies directly connecting rice consumption and adverse health effects.”

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday released preliminary results of arsenic levels in more than 200 rice and rice sample products. The agency said it expects to finish collecting and analyzing more than 1,200 samples by the end of the year. Once the samples are analyzed and completed, the FDA will determine if additional recommendations are needed.

Currently, the sample levels of arsenic the FDA found are in line with what the Consumer Reports study found.

“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 agency said in a statement.

However, the Consumer Reports study recommended people eat no more than two servings of a quarter-cup of dry rice a week.

For children under 5, the group advised against drinking rice drinks as part of their daily diet. They also recommended no more than one serving of infant rice cereal a day for babies.

Dr. Frank Greer, a pediatrician and former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics nutrition committee, said that the data on arsenic in food is limited. “Yes, the numbers are concerning. But we don’t really know what arsenic means when it's in food ... it’s present in all foods. This includes organic fruits and vegetables."

However, he suggested that concerned parents follow the Consumer Reports suggestions. “No mother wants to take any chance with an infant. So if she feels that way about it, and Consumer Reports is all we have, I think that’s what she should follow.”


soundoff (293 Responses)
  1. C

    OH great.... I'm gluten free, which means the only thing left is Quinoa. They'll be on the hit list next year.
    I think I need a big mac.

    September 19, 2012 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • layde56

      big mac sounds great

      September 19, 2012 at 19:50 | Report abuse |
    • FlutenGree-Fh Ouck

      Was thinking the same thing when I saw the article.. I almost live on Chicken Rice soup. Guess it'll be Chicken corn noodle soup :/

      September 19, 2012 at 20:17 | Report abuse |
    • luvUamerica

      Eat California rice.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:18 | Report abuse |
    • us_1776

      They ruined the Big Mac.

      The patties are so small now you can hardly find them.

      .

      September 19, 2012 at 20:41 | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      I think it's OK to eat the rice as long as you rinse it first and then cook it Asian style as it says in the Consumer Reports article.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:48 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      May be the standards pertain to the US grown Rice because anything grown in US is bound to be loaded with pesticides. TW a Rice is not a staple diet for a majority of the US folks, hence US Govt does not care !

      September 19, 2012 at 20:56 | Report abuse |
    • EM650

      My family as well. We have to be gluten-free due to gluten allergies and every we either have rice or roasted potatoes.

      September 19, 2012 at 22:08 | Report abuse |
  2. wong soo

    Oh just shut up and eat your damn rice. 2 billion Chinese can't be wrong.

    September 19, 2012 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Matt

      Don't you mean, "can't be WONG" har har har

      September 19, 2012 at 20:02 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Matt, good one!

      September 19, 2012 at 20:35 | Report abuse |
    • bvilleyellowdog

      Asian rices from Thailand and India show among the lowest levels

      September 19, 2012 at 20:37 | Report abuse |
    • bozobub

      But lots of 'em are Wong o.O .

      September 19, 2012 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      And 1 Billion Indians can't be wrong too...

      September 19, 2012 at 20:58 | Report abuse |
  3. MonkeyMan

    Mitt Romney will blame this on Obama 🙂

    September 19, 2012 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      and Obama will blame it on Bush

      September 19, 2012 at 19:53 | Report abuse |
    • William

      Actually you can blame it on.......

      http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=93771&page=1

      September 19, 2012 at 20:08 | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      And Bush will start two unfunded wars over it, and crash the economy.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:09 | Report abuse |
    • luvUamerica

      The Tea Party will blame it on Obama

      September 19, 2012 at 20:19 | Report abuse |
    • Fulgin

      Mit will say 47% will eat rice no matter what but "it's not his job to care about them!"

      September 19, 2012 at 20:29 | Report abuse |
    • I'm Hungry

      Milli-Vanilli will blame it one the rain.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:30 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      I blame it on Rio.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:36 | Report abuse |
    • DevastatedCajun

      -and he'll be right, sorry.
      Obama allowed BP to dump the thousands of tons of corexit to 'eat the oil'.
      We all knew this would happen, and the dolphin stillborns -all of it.
      (but hey, if BP saved billions in fines based on 'visible' square miles of oil....Oh well. btw BP is not responsible for corexit damage)

      September 19, 2012 at 20:36 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_One_Is_to_Blame

      September 19, 2012 at 20:37 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      And i blame it solely on the researchers of this article plus the US farmers !

      September 19, 2012 at 21:00 | Report abuse |
  4. annie

    Is this genetically modified rice? If so, then they are right.

    September 19, 2012 at 19:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom

      If you had read the article you would have known it is present in all food, not only rice, organic or not.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:23 | Report abuse |
  5. what

    if you read it says it was based on 60 pounds of rice.. WHICH IS NOTHING IN A GLOBAL MARKET THEY FEEDS BILLIONS!!! this is propaganda if i've ever seen it.. THIS is a lie.

    September 19, 2012 at 19:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TinyBee

      "The study surveyed more than 60 different rice products ranging from infant cereals to rice pasta and rice drinks..."

      This is more than 60lbs of rice- this is a large sample of various sources.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:06 | Report abuse |
    • Okbandit

      It states that 60 Kinds of rice was surveyed, not pounds.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:08 | Report abuse |
    • Lindalou

      Read it again! It say 60 'kinds' of rice.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:10 | Report abuse |
    • Art

      I was thinking it said 60 rice products.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:12 | Report abuse |
    • I'm Hungry

      I think it was 60 different tests on one grain of rice.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:30 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      The so called "study" only pertains to the rice that is grown in US and not other Asian countries.

      September 19, 2012 at 21:02 | Report abuse |
  6. Bill

    I don't eat no flied lice.

    September 19, 2012 at 19:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rice Eater

      You will ultimately !

      September 19, 2012 at 21:03 | Report abuse |
  7. clark1b

    bad news for the cajuns, asians, pacific islanders, etc .... the current EPA needs to regulate this industry better and/or get the mayors in our big cities to outlaw the selling of big bags of rice to families.

    September 19, 2012 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ORChuck

      And where is Mayor Bloomberg on this? It's clearly in the public interest to limit rice portions.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:03 | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Bad news huh? The only news for you is the vast majority of Asians don't eat this american-branded rice. They always rinse their rice before cooking as well. This article is a non-issue, has a weak set of sources and a scare tactic from Consumer Reports.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:45 | Report abuse |
    • Seldom Seen Mike

      Bad news for everyone.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:53 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      Hey Dick Clark, understand the situation before comment upon it. You are a Moron !

      September 19, 2012 at 21:04 | Report abuse |
  8. Jet

    Masons did it...

    September 19, 2012 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. GA3672

    This is bunch of baloney, people in asia has been eating rice for thousands of years.

    September 19, 2012 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr. Ted

      baloney is high in fat, cholesterol and sodium nitrites. stick to eating rice.

      September 19, 2012 at 19:57 | Report abuse |
    • John

      Good point.
      Although what if it's a recent contamination?

      September 19, 2012 at 19:58 | Report abuse |
    • DG

      They didn't use water poisoned from mines or use chemical fertilizers to grow them.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:27 | Report abuse |
    • El Nino

      That's why they look funny.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:31 | Report abuse |
    • I'm Hungry

      This is (a) bunch of rice, people in asia has[sic] been eating baloney for thousands of years.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:33 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      What is not Cholesterol ? Please enlighten me. Isn't the meat from a cow, pig/pork and other animals considered as a HIGH CHOLESTEROL diet ?

      September 19, 2012 at 21:08 | Report abuse |
  10. James

    What a BS! If it's true most asians would be dead by now. Eating fatty fried food will kill you faster!

    September 19, 2012 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Salma

      ever been to an Asian country? They fry everything...except their rice. Yet they live longer than westerners. I say it's because they walk more and don't watch TV 12 hours a day.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:02 | Report abuse |
    • Seldom Seen Mike

      They fry their rice too...

      September 19, 2012 at 20:55 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      Fried rice is prevalent only in western countries and not in Asian cultures.

      September 19, 2012 at 21:30 | Report abuse |
  11. John

    Where is this stuff coming from?

    September 19, 2012 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Seldom Seen Mike

      your mom

      September 19, 2012 at 20:55 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      From a imbred Indian Researcher !

      September 19, 2012 at 21:09 | Report abuse |
  12. Jon

    People have been eating rice forever. This finding is bunk.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • svanna

      Yea but its not all rice that has this. Its rice from 4 specific states.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:04 | Report abuse |
    • us_1776

      You have not been GMO foods forever.

      .

      September 19, 2012 at 20:50 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      People don't eat Genetically Modified foods in Asia. Its for livestock only !

      September 19, 2012 at 22:14 | Report abuse |
  13. 123elle

    Good grief, I've never seen such a concentration of paranoids in my life as are posting here! Apparently there's a huge contamination phobia in people... and a major fear of "they" and "government" although our legislatures contain the most fuddled, ineffectual and craven bunch of perpetual junketers and creepy gropers you could ever wish to impeach.

    I do know that growing up many years ago, when polio was stalking us, a living death, Dr. Salk's vaccine lifted the terror. We were grateful to our government for protecting us. Fluoridating water saved a whole generation from becoming "metal mouths." The Surgeon General's warning, laboriously achieved against the machinations of the tobacco industry, kept me from smoking. Thalidomide was barred from the country thanks to Frances Kelsey. No more malaria outbeaks in the South... People should be grateful and happy.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. wend28

    So at what point will we all be told just to not eat anything? Ridiculous. Five years from now we'll be told something different about rice. Funny how billions of Asians live off rice and the majority of them are not obese or dying of heart disease.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mommytoane

      Not to mention are healthier and tend to live longer than americans. Plus have awesome hair and nails.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:09 | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      They do not wash there hair everyday like americans , and they charge for nails to be done here, Can;t be the rice ...Must be the money

      September 19, 2012 at 20:16 | Report abuse |
  15. The chinese are Wong

    for eating rice.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. TinyBee

    If this is naturally found in rice- and has always been there for all these thousands of years, then don't worry and eat your rice. 🙂

    However, if this is a man-made contamination, additive, or pesticide residue then there's a huge problem.... more information is needed to determine the source.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Andrea

      I agree with Tiny Bee. (I'm a poet and don't even know it.)

      September 19, 2012 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
  17. KGWest

    Regarding pollution/contamination/regulation – I'd like to see samples tested from multiple countries as well as a complete breakdown of the results from each U.S. region. How much of this is naturally occurring no matter what and how much of this is due to soil contamination/conditions?

    September 19, 2012 at 20:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rice Eater

      Better to ask the USDA and the researcher of this article.

      September 19, 2012 at 22:02 | Report abuse |
  18. Andy in Oregon

    Pizza and Coke RULE.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • I'm Hungry

      I agree, but I'm still at risk. I always order rice as a topping on my pizza, and I use frozen rice as ice cubes in my coke...

      September 19, 2012 at 20:35 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      Don't worry, you are alrzeady DEAD consuming COKE and Pizza !

      September 19, 2012 at 22:04 | Report abuse |
  19. juice

    Oh come on. Breathing polluted big city air is much more harmful than eating rice. But we don't see those on the frontpage news.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • I'm Hungry

      Don't forget the microwave communication waves that are passing through our organs all day every day from cell phone towers.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:58 | Report abuse |
  20. Rick

    Eat American Food – Will just get Mad cow disease. For goodness sake eat and be happy.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. AsianDogEater

    Explains why Asians act so crazy.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      and this explains why you are so ignorant

      September 19, 2012 at 20:22 | Report abuse |
    • I'm Hungry

      explains why news article comments are free...

      September 19, 2012 at 20:37 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      Because Asians are INTELLIGENT and are not BIPOLAR or PSYCHO Imbred's like you !

      September 19, 2012 at 22:06 | Report abuse |
  22. cyg

    Just pour some fracking water on it and you'll get something even more nutritious. Soylent Green...tick tock.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. juice

    Yes the air we breath, the food we eat, the water we drink and the stuff that touches our skin. The harmful elements are all around us. But having showered with these kind of news all the time, ya think the public might get desensitized over time?

    September 19, 2012 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. hk

    i think romney added it .. he has huge love for corn ..

    September 19, 2012 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Dave

    It's just poison, just to make sure organisms don't want to eat it, long as you're not an organism then your fine.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rick

      I like tulips on an organ Dave

      September 19, 2012 at 20:21 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      um..

      September 19, 2012 at 20:24 | Report abuse |
  26. ManTex

    Smoke, eat rice, breath the air or drink the water ... it is all the same.

    Time for the government Nannys to give it a rest. Let us enjoy or lives ... however long or short they may be.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Andy in Oregon

      Which government nannies? It's a magazine. Stupid comment.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:26 | Report abuse |
    • Bills Cat

      I'm okay with that, too. Getting real tired of 'studies' telling me everything I eat, drink, smoke and touch will kill me - oh, and lets not forget the Rx stuff that eases the symptoms of one ailment while causing another, ahem. The Grim Reaper will come for me sooner or later, no one here gets out alive.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:37 | Report abuse |
  27. Rick

    Mice Krispy's ? I think it is a scam to overthrow our cereal companies

    September 19, 2012 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Dave

    Grow your own food, then you only have to worry about police.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. CaesarXIII

    Maggots Michael.. You're eating maggots.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. lovethedifferentcommentsystemsCNN

    we are all doomed, thanks rice!

    September 19, 2012 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. hk

    wait a second ... 2 quarter cup a week !!!! I eat that in a day .. i am going to be dead soon. I thought we live in a country that controls food safety .. how are we better than any poor african nation .. they dont have food to eat , we have too much of bad food to eat .. we are both going to die, one with hunger and other with over polluted processes food ... Thats the difference between poor and rich countries .. God is a great normalizer .. Anyways i am sure Romney would be blamining Obama ... Romney basically says what people want to hear .. he will change his stand as soon as he knows people want to hear something else .. he is a corrupt CEO .. sad we are seeing him on stage ..

    September 19, 2012 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Penny Nickels

    That reminds me, my Rice Krispies need a little more cyanide...

    September 19, 2012 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rice Eater

      Sure, you already have it since it is a processed food with loaded calories !

      September 19, 2012 at 21:47 | Report abuse |
  33. Zin

    Does this mean rices from in state is infected only? What about rice from out of the country?

    September 19, 2012 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rice Eater

      The article ONLY applies to the Rice grown and marketed in US. Now go and blame the Republican farmers out there, who get a lot of subsidies from the Govt and still do not end up paying any Taxes !

      September 19, 2012 at 21:50 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      I would never buy the rice from US any way.

      September 19, 2012 at 21:51 | Report abuse |
  34. xyz

    According to this article I'm already dead years ago.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rice Eater

      And I am a ZOMBIE !

      September 19, 2012 at 22:09 | Report abuse |
  35. Bills Cat

    Oh gee, another miracle food bites the dust. Just never occurred to anybody anywhere that all that stuff went up in the sky for a hundred years from pollution - coal plants, in particular - might end up in the soil. How about the packages, are they safer to eat? LOL

    September 19, 2012 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. thomas m @ austin

    Good lord, more reason to just drink instead of eating.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. IndianaGreg

    So does this panic replace last-weeks panic about Tide PODS Laundry Detergent?

    September 19, 2012 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Andrew

    So white race generally has less. So there is now a trade off between brown and white rice.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • I'm Hungry

      Careful with that line of thinking...people will accuse you of being rice-ist...

      September 19, 2012 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      Given a choice, i always choose white over brown or black...so YUMMY !

      September 19, 2012 at 22:11 | Report abuse |
  39. right leaning left facing middle of the road thinker

    why arent my profound comments being posted though they can determine it's a duplicate?

    September 19, 2012 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rice Eater

      Because you are a moron with no face !

      September 19, 2012 at 22:12 | Report abuse |
  40. bridget

    My comment wasn't posted either.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • us_1776

      Stop using naughty words.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:49 | Report abuse |
    • I'm Hungry

      Will this comment get posted: Bridget is a pretty name.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:53 | Report abuse |
  41. chazzz

    PLZ...PASS THE SOY SAUCE !!

    September 19, 2012 at 20:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rice Eater

      SOY is the cause for all the Cancer patients in US !

      September 19, 2012 at 21:53 | Report abuse |
  42. whatsizeisyourplate

    Reblogged this on debbiestrauch.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. miketofdal

    the USA Rice Federation said..."[We] are not aware of any established studies directly connecting rice consumption and adverse health effects.” How did we know they were going to say that?!

    September 19, 2012 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. bridget

    FDA execs are former major food corp execs. What this indicates is that a sizable portion of the population is allergic to food corp refined and processed wheat products. I'm still eating rice.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. disgustedvet

    Michelle says "Eat yer rice and peas children" .Chicken nuggets is BAD for you.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. us_1776

    GMO, GMO, GMO !!

    .

    September 19, 2012 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Andy in Oregon

    "Andrew

    So white race generally has less. So there is now a trade off between brown and white rice."

    Haha, you made a racist comment.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • I'm Hungry

      I think you mean a rice-ist comment.

      September 19, 2012 at 20:54 | Report abuse |
    • Penny Nickels

      There's white rice, brown rice and yellow rice, but no black rice. So you brothas and sistas, y'all cool.

      September 19, 2012 at 21:18 | Report abuse |
    • I'm Hungry

      Hi Penny, there IS black rice. I just found that out a couple of weeks ago. It kind of as a buttery taste to it. Google black rice to see a picture.

      September 19, 2012 at 21:26 | Report abuse |
    • Rice Eater

      No matter what, i only smell & eat WHITE Rice !

      September 19, 2012 at 21:55 | Report abuse |
  48. Andrew

    based on the results, I'll just make a point to buy rice that's not grown in the US

    September 19, 2012 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. ChurnTheNews

    2 words, Genetically Modified, blame Big AG

    September 19, 2012 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Piranha

    Flied lice is good 4 u, no alsenik.

    September 19, 2012 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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