Arsenic In Rice: Children Should Not Consume Rice More Than Twice Per Month, Says Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports has issued new consumption guidelines for rice after analyzing Food and Drug Administration data for rice products. The research found worrisome levels of inorganic arsenic, which is linked to several types of cancer.

NBC reports that the new guidelines were released today and outline significant changes to Consumer Reports recommendations regarding rice. Consumer Reports analyzed Food and Drug Administration data on more than 600 foods that contain rice and found some with worrisome levels of inorganic arsenic, which is linked to several types of cancer. The Food and Drug Administration recommends parents consider other options rather than rice cereal for their children’s first solid food and to limit rice consumption for the child’s whole diet.

According to the data, some rice products were considered safer than others. HNGN reports that the rice and grains with the highest levels of inorganic arsenic were found to be all types of rice (excluding sushi and quick-cooking) from Arkansas, Louisiana, or Texas; white rice from California had 38 percent less of the contaminant than those grown in this part of the country. Organic rice was not found to have significantly less inorganic arsenic. Therefore, both organic and conventional shoppers should consider traditional rice substitutes.

Consumer Reports has tested other types of rice and other grains and has found several alternatives with much lower levels of inorganic arsenic. Here are some of the choices that Consumer Reports indicates have lower levels of inorganic arsenic and can be used as a grain substitute.

  • Sushi rice from the US
  • White basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan.
  • Brown basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan
  • Bulgur
  • Barley
  • Faro
  • As well as gluten-free grains like amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa.
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The report notes that sushi rice and white basmati rice have about half the amount of arsenic as their standard white rice counterparts. Brown basmati rice has one-third the amount of arsenic as standard brown rice.

Due to the nature of the findings, Consumer Reports is now suggesting that children rarely eat hot rice cereal or pasta. Rarely was defined as less than twice per month by Consumer Reports. They also suggest replacing the high arsenic rice with other grains to ensure safety. Consumer Reports is also calling for the FDA to set stricter arsenic guidelines for rice-based foods.

“In the meantime, we continue to call on the FDA to set standards for arsenic in rice-based foods and are particularly concerned about the effects on children.”