Arsenic and Rice

Arsenic and Rice

Arsenic Rice

Another health food has fallen from grace, this time its one no one suspected – rice.  In this article we look at what happened with rice, and what you can do to protect yourself against the next “rice”. Consumer Reports, the only magazine I have subscribed to for more than 25 years, broke the news with their report “Arsenic in Your Food“.

Is anyone having Deja Vu?  Not ten years ago, health minded people chomped down the canned tuna.  It was cheap, convenient, and healthy … or so we thought.  Forget the year, 2008 I think, that “shocking” report came out that canned tuna had shockingly high and dangerous levels of mercury in it.  Fast forward to 2012.  Rice, especially brown rice, epitomized health and for many people it provided the nutritional backbone of their diet.  Healthy complex carbs.  Then, yet another “shocking” revelation, rice has lots of arsenic in it!.   Is this something new?  No, its been in our rice for DECADES!  Where are the government agencies that are supposed to be insuring our food safety?  Who is sleeping at the helm of the FDA?  Lets look at what happened with rice and what you can do to prevent the next “rice”

No secret that growing rice takes lots of water, it actually grows in flooded fields.  Well, turns out that the last 50 years in America has been irresponsible in its stewardship of the farmlands and poisoned them with appalling things.  We used to dump on the DDT like it was water and it turns out that we seem to like using arsenic also.  In the last century, America has dumped over 1.6 million tons of arsenic onto its farmlands.  Although arsenics use in insecticides was banned in the 1980’s, its still in the soil and arsenic is still allowed in animal feed and fertilizer.  So its not a big surprise that rice floating in arsenic runoff water has high levels of arsenic in it.  What is pretty shocking to many is that the “organic” label is of no help here because of how long the arsenic sticks around.  Consumer Reports November 2012 issue found that the organic rices could be just as bad arsenic wise as the non-organics.  The rude slap in the face for health minded folks is that since the brown rice doesnt have its outside polished off, it actually has more arsenic than the “unhealthy” white rice.   By the way, this isnt just a theory.  The National Center for Health Statistics looked at arsenic levels in humans from 2003 to 2010 and found that indeed, those people eating  two or more rice products in the prior 24hrs had arsenic levels in their bodies 70% greater than those who didnt eat rice.

What can you do if you love rice?  Wash it, and wash it good!  Use 6 cups water to wash every cup of rice.  According to Consumer Reports, this can reduce the arsenic levels by 30%

Since our government doesnt seem to be able or willing to protect us, what can you do?  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!  Eat a varied diet!  Get your protein from a mix of legumes, eggs, dairy, chicken, fish, pork, lamb and beef.  Get your carbs from a mix of wheat, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, barley, buckwheat, and triticale.  You get the idea.  If any one of these items becomes the next arsenic tainted rice or the next mercury tainted tuna, then because your diet contains so little of it your exposure risk will be minimal.

By the way, many Europeans are shocked to learn that in the USA foods can be genetically modified without having to state it on the label.  California will be voting on proposition 37 which would make it mandatory to label all products containing GM foods.  If you live in California, read it and see if it is something you care about.

As an aside, consider subscribing to Consumer Reports Magazine. Their work is indispensable and can help protect us where our government does not. You may remember the name of their magazine from the protein powder tests of last summer where they found unsafe levels of heavy metals in Muscle Milk. A great magazine to support. As I mentioned, I have been a subscriber for over 25 years.

45 thoughts on “Arsenic and Rice”

  1. One more nail in the coffin…..we, as a species, really ARE going to wipe ourselves out! The senseless, thoughtless contamination and destruction of all things the planet has given us, WILL eventually have to catch up. Can we find a way to stop the insanity?

  2. I feel like there should be more skepticism about the possible harm that the level of aresenic reported in the rice. Most of our food contains some ingredient that, at certain doses, will be harmful to us; although arsenic is potentially lethal, so is water; thus, unless a thorough analysis about the actual real effects of this arsenic at the dosage that is being injested, we have little reason to freak out about it. I have not personally investigated arsenic, but I have investigated mercury in tuna, and from my research I have concluded that the level of merucry in tuna may seem superficially high, but available data we have does not demonstrate a high link between the content of ingested mercury and specific physical effects.

  3. To put this in perspective the lethal dose of arsenic for the average person would be about 2 grams. If you ate the rice containing 8.5 micrograms per serving, you would need to consume 235,294 servings of rice in one sitting to obtain the lethal dose. That’s well over 100,000 pounds of rice.

    If you ate 5 servings of rice per day, it would take you 128 years to accumulate enough arsenic to poison you. Fortunately arsenic is filtered out of your body within 24-48 hours after consumption; therefore, it would be impossible to obtain toxic levels of arsenic from eating rice.

    1. According to wikipedia the lethal dose of arsenic is 200mg or 0,2g (1000 times less than 2g). But that is not the main concern. Even if one don’t die from it the effects of intoxication can be bad. The Environmental Protection Agency assumes there is actually no “safe” level of exposure to inorganic arsenic, which is carcinogen.

          1. Because of his character, I trust him. He is kind, he doesn’t want to sell me anything and always has good advice. Also, he is an engineer like me and see things sceptically. If consumerreports said something can be dangerous, it can be. May be it’s not. But don’t mislead people saying this is bullshit if you can’t proof that too.

          2. Why do you always asume the negative? Isn’t it anti progressive to let anyone who comes up with something new proof that it doesn’t do any harm?
            Is it even possible to proof that something doesn’t do any harm?

            Maybe one day you start shooting all people around you. Better to put you in a cage for security reasons. After all it’s you who has to proof that you won’t do any harm to anyone else.

            You see, things get very complicated quickly.

          3. The thing is simple: it can be dangerous or maybe not. There is this study from consumerreports saying arsenic levels in rice is bad for your health. You’re making the assumption that it’s not, not me. You were asking for proofs, not me. If there is no evidence that something is bad for you then probably it is not. But if there’s data suggesting otherwise you have to refute that to proof it is safe. What is complicated?

      1. According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) the lethal dose (LD50) to half the animals tested was 145mg per kg of body weight. Using that measurement a person weighing 75 kg would need to ingest 10 grams. LD is usually calculated in grams per body weight not absolute figures. The EPA assumes there is no safe level because they don’t have any data suggest otherwise. Its called CYA.

  4. Thank god i don’t eat rice. I mean sometimes i do, but i don’t like the taste or substance of rice. My source of carbohydrates comes from follwing sources, in following order: 1.) Rye. 2.) Vegies. 3.) Potatoes & sweet potatoes 4.) Berries. 5.) Fruits. Etc. Rice is pretty much the last on my list alongside with pasta.

  5. If you really like your rice you should look into ozone generators. What you do is get a good quality ozone generator with an air stone and ozonate some of your foods in cold water. Look it up on youtube and read some studies on it. What happens is that one of the oxygen molecules breaks away and oxidizes contaminants rendering them inert. I would really like to see an experiment to see what arsenic levels would be in rice afterwards.

  6. Scooby, Thanks for the heads up even though I don’t eat rice. Do you have a home garden where you can grow some of your own food ? You should.That can help to some degree in getting uncontaminated food. Also, why eat rice in the first place? It’ very high in carbohydrates, which raises insulin responses; Why bother. All those “healthy whole grains” are anything but healthy, especially wheat. Consumer Reports should come out with warnings about wheat and all the health problem associated with consuming it.
    As a side note, I’ve been raising a few chicken for their eggs. And those egg are “real” with yokes that are orange in color. Forget the BS about fat and cholesterol nonsense it’s a myth.

      1. Yes,that’s right. I eat vegetables (low starch), meat, diary, nuts, seeds, eggs, berries and yes plenty of fats i.e. butter (and saturated fats )

        Read “Wheat Belly ” by William Davis.

        The
        Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making
        the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and
        Enjoyable by Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek.

        Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes (Sep 23, 2008)
        to name a few.

        1. Odd, i eat tons of carbs and lots weight. How? Worked out alot.
          And only simple carbs from sugar and refined stuff messes up insulin. If your active enough you can eat a small amount of simple carbs, especially before a cardio session.

      2. Grains are by definition grasses (Family Poacae, alternately Graminae). If you eat grains, you are eating grass seed. Grains are fine for most, unhealthy for many, and positively toxic for a small minority.

  7. The FDA and all other government agencies have no interest in looking out for out health. They are all controlled and have interests in big money corporations. It is those corporations that are killing us causing widespread disease in this country. It is really ironic that the most powerful country in the world is its own worst enemy and is killing itself from within all in the name of greed and money. Our health means nothing.

  8. i’m european and poor. So i have no other choices to buy cheap food… and cheap food means genetically modified food… what can i do ?!! vegetable/ fruits are modified here and meat too, even fishs!! and i don’t have a garden

  9. For those asking about arsenic levels in the rice available in other countries, remember that Consumer Reports is a US publication so they focus on the rice that is available for consumption in America. The worst rice tested by CU had 8.5 micrograms or arsenic per serving and the best ‘only’ had 1.3 micrograms per serving. The three rices grown in India varied from 1.3 to 3 micrograms per serving. The three rices grown in Thailand varied from 2.7 – 3.9 micrograms per serving. It seems to be a global problem, not just one specific to the USA. Rice was not tested from any other countries.

  10. As a European, I am appalled that the USA always values such statements that much. Genetic modification is not at all something bad and if rice has been the primary source of food for a large portion of the world population for an extreme long period of time, I hardly doubt anyone will notice anything from ‘Arsenic poisoning’.

    1. Not notice until you visit a doctor saying sorry you have cancer or a tumor, heart failure, failing kidneys, liver or whatsoever of the combination of toxins over the many years.

      Won’t notice anything you say. I think people are well notified about what all these little harms can do.

      Good that the government notices it… so people try harder earning more money getting expensive products and by that standard the gaps in equality becomes bigger.

      I pledge for a save yourself now don’t go lying about getting rich sleeping and stop making so many freaking children so we can go back to normal food production and less of this capitalistic based consumerism.

      Cause in the end even the rich will consume themselves.

      I do not pledge to take away democracies, capitalism or whatever kind of government. I do pledge for a over 500 year step back in population growth so we can maintain luxuriant lifestyle and even boost it. Cause overall public health means growth in welfare and wellness.

      But people don’t seem to see that clear picture and choose the easy way extorting people with lies of unhealthy products. The picture ain’t that bad yet. But when you keep making this go future like this I’d advice you to take that golden bullet of yours and pull it through your heads.

      PS: no offense to on-line workforces whatsoever, just a overeducated advice. We still need you but we need you to step back.

    2. GM in itself isn’t a bad thing, but what they do with it mostly is. Most of the actual modification goes into turning them more resistant to pesticides, which means you can use nastier stuff to keep stuff eating your crops. Which in turn means higher levels of bad stuff in the actual product.

    1. I’m Australian as well and I’m presuming, as long as the rice products you buy are not imported from America, that it should be fine unless we hear something about Australian producers. Look at Scooby’s comment below with regards to Thai rice. Be aware of where your rice is being supplied form but also consume a wide variety of carbs!

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