WIC Nutrition Program News
FDA Looks for Answers on Arsenic in Rice
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors hundreds of foods and beverages that make up the average American diet. The agency looks for substances that could be harmful to consumers, including industrial chemicals, heavy metals, pesticide residues and radiation contamination.
Those dietary staples include rice and rice products, foods that FDA has specifically tested for the presence of inorganic arsenic, a chemical that under some circumstances has been associated with long-term health effects.
The agency has analyzed nearly 200 samples of rice and rice products and is collecting about 1,000 more. Since rice is processed into many products, these samples include rice products such as cereals, rice beverages and rice cakes.
Arsenic levels can vary greatly from sample to sample, even within the same product. FDA’s testing of the initial samples found these average levels of inorganic arsenic in micrograms (one millionth of a gram):
Rice (other than Basmati rice): 6.7 per 1 cup (cooked) Rice cakes: 5.4 per 2 cakes Rice beverages: 3.8 per 240 ml (some samples not tested for inorganic arsenic) Rice cereals: 3.5 per 1 cup Basmati rice: 3.5 per 1 cup cooked Based on data and scientific literature available now, FDA is not recommending that consumers change their consumption of rice and rice products at this time, but that people eat a balanced diet containing a wide variety of grains.
Data collection is the critical first step in assessing long-term health risks and minimizing those risks.
“We understand that consumers are concerned about this matter. 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,” says FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.
Once FDA has completed its analysis of about 1,200 rice products, the agency will analyze these results and determine whether or not to issue additional recommendations.
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