Yesterday, I wrote a post about 10 recipes to use up leftover steak. One of the recipes that I was seriously considering was beef fried rice. I’m going to be away at the Natural Products Expo East Thursday and Friday, and I was thinking about prepping all the ingredients for the recipe for my family to cook up tomorrow evening when I’m away. Then this morning, news of arsenic levels in rice hits the news, and I’m wondering if that’s such a great idea.
ABC News is reporting that Consumer Reports found “worrisome levels” of arsenic in rice and products that contain rice. Their findings concluded that “rice eaten just once a day can drive arsenic levels in the human body up 44 percent. Rice eaten twice a day can lead to a 70 percent increase in arsenic.”
More than 60 rice and rice products were tested for arsenic, including white and brown rice, infant and adult rice cereal, rice pasta and rice drinks. The findings prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to announce its concerns about the levels of arsenic in rice; the agency will begin a study of the issue. The FDA is also expected to recommend that people eat a varied diet, but the agency isn't expected to give more specifics.
Consumer Reports is recommending specifics:
Consumer Reports suggests rice eaters limit themselves to one serving a day, especially for babies. Rinsing and then boiling rice in a 6 to 1 water ratio removes about 30 percent of its arsenic. They also caution that children under the age of 5 should not be given rice drinks as part of their daily diet.
Consumers can’t rely on organic rice products to be any different in this area than non-organic. Philly.com reported last February that products like infant formula and cereal/energy bars that were made with organic brown rice syrup, rice flour, rice grain or rice flakes as primary ingredients had high levels of arsenic.
Exactly how concerned should we be about these high levels of arsenic? I think it’s too early to tell. A year ago, “The Dr. Oz” show ran a report about high levels of arsenic in apple juice. A debate ensued about organic vs. inorganic arsenic, and whether the source of the arsenic found in the juice came from naturally occurring arsenic or arsenic from chemical fertilizers and pesticides. I’m sure the same type of debate is about to come over the source of the arsenic in rice.
If you are concerned, as I am, don’t freak out about the rice you’ve consumed in the past. There’s nothing you can do about that now. Limit your rice intake and your family’s rice intake for the time being. Keep yourself informed as more information about the arsenic in rice surfaces. And, come back here Friday afternoon (9.21) when I’ll have some links to further reading you can do about the subject over your weekend.
Related rice story on MNN: Blogger petitions FDA to set arsenic levels for rice