Arsenic and Rice Blog

Arsenic and Rice: Update for Gluten-Free Consumers

I first coated the difficulty of arsenic and rice in 2009 at the urging of a concerned shopper. That initial article may be accessed at The current article couldn’t have been written without the useful and beneficiant e mail correspondence from arsenic researchers at Dartmouth School.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring factor that’s found in both natural (carbon-containing) and inorganic (non-carbon-containing) varieties. It might be present in soil, water, and air. Inorganic arsenic is a recognized carcinogen and ingestion might trigger an elevated danger of sure cancers. Ingestion of inorganic arsenic may also have an effect on the pores and skin and gastrointestinal tract.

Arsenic and the World Health Group

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls arsenic publicity “a major public health concern.” In accordance with the WHO, inorganic arsenic could be very toxic while organic arsenic is much less harmful. “Human exposure to elevated levels of inorganic arsenic occurs mainly through the consumption of groundwater containing naturally high levels of inorganic arsenic, food prepared with this water and food crops irrigated with high-arsenic water sources.” Public well being measures are referred to as for to lower exposure to arsenic. Whereas at one time the WHO had a provisional tolerable weekly consumption of inorganic arsenic, this provisional intake has been withdrawn and a brand new tolerable weekly consumption has not been set.

Arsenic and Water

The Environmental Safety Agency (EPA) and the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) have limits on the quantity of complete arsenic that could be found in consuming water and bottled water, respectively. This quantity is 0.01 mg of arsenic per liter or 10 micrograms per liter (10 ppb). Take note though that simply because consuming water is allowed to include 10 ppb arsenic does not imply that it does.

Based mostly on allowed amounts, two liters (approximately 8 cups) of water should include a most of 20 micrograms of complete arsenic (arsenic in consuming water is inorganic).

Arsenic and Food

In accordance with the European Food Security Authority, several meals might include inorganic arsenic and contribute to an individual’s exposure, including rice and rice-based products. Rice is an issue as a result of it’s grown underneath flooded circumstances. This follow results in the excessive mobilization of soil arsenic into the rice plant. That rice is a supply of inorganic arsenic is especially concerning to the gluten-free group particularly amongst those that have a largely rice-based weight-reduction plan.

The EPA has set a Reference Dose for continual oral publicity to inorganic arsenic of zero.0003 mg per kg of body weight per day. The EPA defines the Reference Dose as, “an estimate (with uncertainty spanning perhaps an order of magnitude) of a daily oral exposure to the human population (including sensitive subgroups) that is likely to be without appreciable risk of deleterious noncancer effects during a lifetime.”

What this Means

Utilizing the EPA equation (mg/kg/d) and myself for instance, the maths is as follows: Divide weight in pounds by 2.2 (132 /2.2= 60). Then Multiply 60 kg by zero.0003 (60 x 0.0003=0.018). My inorganic arsenic consumption from food and water must be restricted to 0.018 mg (or 18 micrograms) per day.

Arsenic Check Results

The FDA has not yet set limits for the amount of inorganic arsenic in food. Nevertheless, the agency is actively investigating the arsenic content material of rice and lately released outcomes of analytical testing on rice and rice merchandise. They offered a abstract of their findings so far.

The 49 samples of non basmati rice assessed by the FDA had a mean inorganic arsenic degree of 6.7 micrograms per serving (45 grams/1 cup cooked).

The 52 samples of basmati rice assessed by the FDA had a mean inorganic arsenic degree of three.5 micrograms per serving (45 grams dry/1 cup cooked).

The 32 samples of rice cereal assessed by the FDA had a mean inorganic arsenic degree of 3.5 micrograms per serving (30 grams dry/1 cup).

The 32 samples of rice muffins assessed by the FDA had a mean inorganic arsenic degree of 5.4 micrograms per serving (30 grams dry/2 rice desserts).

The 28 samples of rice drinks assessed by the FDA had a mean inorganic arsenic degree of three.8 micrograms per serving (1 cup).

Steps Concerned Consumers Can Take:

1. Learn how much arsenic is in your tap, properly, or bottled water. Understanding this amount will provide you with some concept of the amount of rice and rice-based merchandise you possibly can eat and nonetheless fall inside the EPA’s reference dose for inorganic arsenic. For info on tap water, you can name your local water division. For those who use nicely water, you’ll have to test it for arsenic your self. Should you drink bottled water, you possibly can name the company. Check results on bottled water carried out by the Natural Assets Defense Council can be found at: Testing was completed several years in the past.

2. Change the source of and cooking technique for rice. If you need to proceed eating rice, Dr. Andrew Meharg from the Institute of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK and a world famend professional on arsenic, provided the following advice once I interviewed him in 2009:

a. Source rice from low arsenic areas. California rice is lower in arsenic than South Central rice.

b. Use high water to rice volumes just like when cooking pasta. Discard the water throughout cooking. This follow will remove a big portion of the inorganic arsenic.

three. Substitute no less than some of the rice you eat with other gluten-free grains. Dr. Meharg also recommends not having such a robust dependence on rice merchandise and switching to utilizing other grains if attainable. Look  intently on the rice-based products you’re consuming to see the place you possibly can make substitutions. Some recommendations embrace:

a. As an alternative of rice muffins attempt Actual Meals Corn Thins

b. As an alternative of rice pasta attempt Mrs. Leeper’s Corn Pasta,  Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta produced from corn and quinoa,  or King Soba Buckwheat Noodles

c. As an alternative of scorching rice cereal attempt gluten-free oatmeal, Ruth’s Chia Goodness cereal,  Pocono Cream of Buckwheat, or teff scorching cereal (see recipe under).

d. As an alternative of ready-to-eat cereal based mostly on rice attempt Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise Flakes, or Envirokidz Gorilla Munch Cereal

e. As an alternative of rice-based drinks attempt soy-based drinks.

f. Attempt recipes that substitute buckwheat, millet, quinoa, teff, and sorghum for rice.

My Personal Thoughts

I eat plenty of plain rice. It is likely one of the few foods that sit nicely in my abdomen. Once I take a look at the quantity of inorganic arsenic allowed in water, there doesn’t seem to be a lot room for arsenic in meals. Nevertheless, as already talked about, just because water is allowed to include a specific amount of arsenic doesn’t mean that each one tap and bottled water accommodates most amounts. That is just like the difficulty with gluten-free meals. Whereas as much as (but not including) 20 ppm gluten is allowed underneath the proposed FDA  rule, the overwhelming majority of foods tested by means of Gluten Free Watchdog are testing under 5 ppm. Having investigated the arsenic levels of my tap and bottled water, I will probably be reducing however not giving up utterly the rice in my food plan.

Phrases of Knowledge

Over the previous couple days I have been speaking with premier arsenic researchers at Dartmouth School. Brian Jackson, PhD, Director of the Trace Aspect Evaluation Core Facility at Dartmouth, wrote the next to me in an e-mail, “It’s important to consider that we are talking about effects of long term low level exposures and these limits are based on extrapolations from effects at higher levels of exposure assuming a worst case linear correlation. Also, not all arsenic in food is inorganic arsenic and not all inorganic arsenic will necessarily be adsorbed by the body. The limits are aimed at reducing population-level health effects and it’s hard to comprehend what that means on an individual basis. Added to that, there may be offsetting health benefits to a gluten free diet. Don’t get me wrong, I think we need much more product testing and limits to remove products that are high in inorganic arsenic; we need to push for more regulation but we don’t need to hit the panic button either.”

Teff Scorching Cereal

(Initially revealed in The Gluten-Free Vitamin Guide by Tricia Thompson. McGraw-Hill; 2008)

When you like scorching cereal, then you might need to give this nutritious recipe a attempt. Cooked teff grain has a nice nutty, chewy texture and a light taste.

¾ cup water

¼ cup raw teff grain

¼ cup raisins (or some other dried fruit)

1 tablespoon unsweetened dried coconut

1 tablespoon yogurt

1 tablespoon maple syrup

In a small saucepan deliver water to a boil. Add teff and raisins. Cowl and scale back heat to low (keep a simmer). Prepare dinner till all of the water is absorbed. Prime with coconut, yogurt, and maple syrup.

Makes 1 serving


US Environmental Safety Company. Arsenic Compounds. 2007. Obtainable at:

US Environmental Safety Company. Primary Information about Arsenic in Consuming Water. 2012. Obtainable at:

US Environmental Protection Company. Inorganic Arsenic. 2007. Out there at:

US Geological Survey. Arsenic in Groundwater in the USA. 2011. Obtainable at:

World Well being Group. Publicity to Arsenic: A Major Public Well being Concern. 2010. Obtainable at:

US Food and Drug Administration. Bottled Water: Arsenic. 2011. Obtainable at:

US Meals and Drug Administration. Arsenic in Rice. 2012. Out there at:

© 2012 by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD. All rights reserved.

This article will not be reprinted, reposted, or republished with out the categorical written permission of Tricia Thompson