Mrs. Hound and I eat a lot of rice, as do many of our friends and relatives, and a couple of billion other people around the world, and according to some recent studies done by the FDA, rice and rice products are chock full of arsenic.
The report of the FDA study says that specific results have been released so people will be able to “manage possible arsenic-related risks associated” with consuming these products. Really? And what ARE these risks? Well, the same report says that the “levels [the] FDA found in its testing are too low to cause immediate or short-term adverse health effects”, BUT that the FDA will NOW do additional work centering on figuring out exactly what LONG RANGE effects there will be from such consumption of arsenic.
for other health problems in later life.”
The FDA has disseminated various information and materials on their site, and through various blogs, that recommend that consumers need to vary their diets, and eat barley, quinoa, oats, wheat, and keep away from a daily dose,.. eh,… serving, of rice.
There is no national standard for allowable or “safe” levels of arsenic per serving of any food, but the EPA does have such a standard for drinking water, and that is 10 parts per billion, which translates to 10 micrograms per liter of water. Of even more interest is the fact that the State of New Jersey has its own safe arsenic level for drinking water,
|and their standard is one-half of the EPA’s standard, five parts per billion, which translates to five micrograms per liter. Check that against the chart below.
So, just where does this arsenic come from, and are rice products in other countries just as potentially dangerous as US supplies? While the FDA makes a point of stating in their report that arsenic is a naturally occurring substance in the environment and that it is found is water, air, soil and various other foods, the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (yes, there IS such an agency, and it is part of the Centers for Disease Control)
has reported that human activity, US human activity, is responsible for increased arsenic levels. The US, they report, is the world’s largest user of arsenic, and that:
1. Though banned in the 1980s, residuals from decades of use of lead-arsenate insecticides remain present yet today in agricultural soil; and
2. Arsenical ingredients are added to animal feed to prevent disease and promote growth (See what I wrote about antibiotic animal food additives just a few days ago).
The FDA provided the following chart, showing the micrograms per serving of arsenic in various rice products, and the number of samples of each product tested. Bear in mind that the arsenic levels shown are averages – if you dig a bit deeper, it can be seen that some individual samples were found to have arsenic levels as high as 30 micrograms per serving:
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