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Arsenic in Rice.... OMG!!!    Sept 2012.

Well the press is at it again.  They reported: CBS/AP) A new study from Consumer Reports claims samples of white rice, brown rice and rice breakfast cereals that many U.S. adults and children eat may contain worrisome levels of arsenic. The magazine tested more than 200 samples of rice products - including popular brands, store brands and even organic ones - and found measurable amounts of arsenic in "virtually every product tested."  "We found significant levels of inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen, in almost every product category, along with organic arsenic, which is less toxic but still of concern," the authors wrote.”

The actual numbers of arsenic in each brand of rice can be found here:
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/arsenic-in-your-food/index.htm#chart

 Here are some numbers from that chart:

Whole foods Brown Rice:   210-282 ppb and 7.4-8.4 micrograms/serving of inorganic arsenic.
Archer Farms Target white: 54-81 ppb and 1.3-2.2 micrograms/serving
Infant Cereal beech-Nut:    110-130 ppb and 0.8-1.0 micrograms/serving
Infant Gerber rice cereal:    97-329 ppb and 0.8-1.3 micrograms/serving

 Their statement was: “We also discovered that some infant rice cereals, which are often a baby’s first solid food, had levels of inorganic arsenic at least five times more than has been found in alternatives such as oatmeal.”  Well if oatmeal has 0.7 micrograms then five times that is 3.5 micrograms in rice … still low levels.  Why did they not compare the levels in a rock so they could report it was 100 times the amout!

 The articles reported:   “So far, both studies show relatively similar levels of arsenic in rice. The FDA's analysis, including 200 samples, showed average levels of 3.5 to 6.7 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per serving. Consumer Reports, with 223 samples, found levels up to 8.7 micrograms. A microgram is one billionth of a kilogram.”

 You notice they reported to the press “up to 8.7 micrograms” when in fact you look at the levels they found most were 3-5 micrograms.  They put the highest number up there and said how it is 1 times the limit… and they used the lowest water limit in the country of 5ppb when EPA said the limit was 10.  Here is what they said:

No federal limit exists for arsenic in most foods, but the standard for drinking water is 10 parts per billion (ppb). Keep in mind: That level is twice the 5 ppb that the EPA originally proposed and that New Jersey actually established. Using the 5-ppb standard in our study, we found that a single serving of some rices could give an average adult almost one and a half times the inorganic arsenic he or she would get from a whole day’s consumption of water, about 1 liter.”

 You may be able to cut your exposure to inorganic arsenic in rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking, using a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup rice for cooking and draining the excess water afterward.

 I don’t think there should be any arsenic in the food and water but there is no way to exterminate every mosquito in DFW and there is no way to have zero arsenic in water, rice, vegetables, and fruit.  It is also in weather treated wood in children’s playground equipment.  We just need to keep it down as low as we can in foods and eat a variety of foods… too much of any one food is bad for us. I will wait to see what the FDA decides when they finish their evaluation.  Go ahead and give some rice cereal.  If you are giving rice cereal to 2 month old or older infants, alternate it with oatmeal if you are concerned.  No wheat or barley until 6 months.  

 See:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/arsenic1112.htm

 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57516150-10391704/consumer-reports-study-finds-concerning-levels-of-arsenic-in-rice/

 Roger Knapp MD