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Rising levels of ARSENIC in rice ‘could be toxic and pose cancer risk’ – and there are NO federal standards over how much is allowed in food

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  • Inorganic arsenic  – found in some pesticides and insecticides – can be toxic
  • Arsenic is higher  in rice than most other foods because it is grown in water on the  ground
  • FDA  officials are studying 1,200 samples to test for possible  dangers

By Associated Press

PUBLISHED:11:46 EST, 19  September 2012| UPDATED:11:46 EST, 19 September 2012

 

Consumer groups are pressuring the Food and  Drug Administration to set federal guidance on allowable levels of arsenic in  rice, prompting the agency to study the issue and consider possible new  standards.

So far, FDA officials say they have found no  evidence that suggests rice is unsafe to eat. The agency is in the middle of  conducting a study of 1,200 samples of grocery-store rice products — short and  long-grain rice, cereals, drinks and even rice cakes — to measure arsenic  levels.

Arsenic is thought to be found in rice in  higher levels than most other foods because it is grown in water on the ground,  optimal conditions for the contaminant to be absorbed in the rice.

Grain by grain: Consumer groups are pressuring the FDA to set federal guidance on allowable levels of arsenic in rice, prompting the agency to study the issueGrain by grain: Consumer groups are pressuring the FDA  to set federal guidance on allowable levels of arsenic in rice, prompting the  agency to study the issue

 

Posing a threat: Inorganic arsenic - the type found in some pesticides and insecticides - can be toxic and may pose a cancer risk if consumed at high levels or over a long periodPosing a threat: Inorganic arsenic – the type found in  some pesticides and insecticides – can be toxic and may pose a cancer risk if  consumed at high levels or over a long period

There are no federal standards for how much  arsenic is allowed in food.

Arsenic is naturally present in water, air,  food and soil in two forms, organic and inorganic. According to the FDA, organic  arsenic passes through the body quickly and is essentially  harmless.

Inorganic arsenic — the type found in some  pesticides and insecticides — can be toxic and may pose a cancer risk if  consumed at high levels or over a long period.

 

How much organic and inorganic arsenic rice  eaters are consuming, and whether those levels are dangerous, still remain to be  seen.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says  consumers shouldn’t stop eating rice, though she does encourage a diverse diet  just in case.

‘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,’ she said.

Testing: The FDA will study arsenic levels in rice products, including cerealsTesting: The FDA will study arsenic levels in rice  products, including cereals

 

The agency on Wednesday released 200 of the  expected 1,200 samples after the magazine Consumer Reports released its own  study and called for federal standards for arsenic in rice.

The FDA will not complete its study until the  end of the year, Hamburg said, and cannot draw any conclusions from the results  until then.

Both studies show relatively similar levels  of arsenic in rice. The FDA’s analysis showed average levels of 3.5 to 6.7  micrograms of inorganic arsenic per serving, while Consumer Reports found levels  up to 8.7 micrograms. The FDA released 200 samples, while Consumer Reports  tested 223.

It is almost impossible to say how dangerous  these levels are without a benchmark from the federal government. Consumer  Reports uses New Jersey’s drinking water standard — a maximum of 5 micrograms in  a litre of water — as comparison because it is one of the strictest in the  country.

But it is unclear how accurate it is to  compare arsenic levels in water and arsenic levels in rice — most people consume  more water than rice, so drinking water standards may need to be  tougher.

It is because of this uncertainty that  consumer groups have urged the FDA to set a standard.

Urvashi Rangan of Consumer Reports says the  group is not trying to alarm rice eaters and parents feeding their children  rice, but to educate them so they can diversify their diets. Consumers should be  more protected since arsenic is a known carcinogen, she said.

riceAdvancements: Scientists have known for decades that  arsenic is present in rice, but the issue has renewed interest as consumers are  more interested than ever in what they eat and technology has advanced

‘It doesn’t make sense not to have standards  for rice,’ she said.

The Consumer Reports study found higher  levels of arsenic in brown rice than white rice, a result of how the two  different types are processed. It also found higher levels in rice produced in  Southern U.S. states than in rice from California or Asia.

Hamburg cautioned that neither the FDA nor  Consumer Reports had tested enough samples to be certain of any  trend.

‘These are very few samples and there is  great variability in the levels,’ she said.

Scientists have known for decades that  arsenic is present in rice, but the issue has renewed interest as consumers are  more interested than ever in what they eat and technology has advanced to the  point that inorganic and organic arsenic can be measured separately.

The consumer group’s push on arsenic in rice  comes a year after it pressured the FDA to define standards for arsenic in apple  juice.

Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner  for foods, said Tuesday that the agency had completed that assessment and would  be making recommendations soon. The levels found in apple juice are low, he  said.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2205633/Rising-levels-ARSENIC-rice-toxic-pose-cancer-risk–NO-federal-standards-allowed-food.html#ixzz26xZsseyG Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

About Post Author

Ralph Turchiano

I have a strong affinity for the sciences which led me to create my sites. My compulsion for the past decade has been reviewing literally every peer-reviewed research article. Which can easily be validated by following my posts. To me, science is where the real news is, as it will mold our destiny beyond that of politics or economics. 😉 Please feel free to e-mail: 161803p314159@gmail.com
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