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Is the Arsenic in Rice Safe?

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Is the Arsenic in Rice Safe?

There has been a lot of talk over the last few years about arsenic in our food system. From apple juice to chicken parts (because it is fed to chickens) and more recently rice, there seems to be a new cause for concern or disgust each week.

Surprisingly, just days ago the FDA announced that they consider the level of arsenic found in rice and rice products of no concern… for now:

“In tests for arsenic in more than 1,300 samples of rice and rice products, the Food and Drug Administration has found levels vary but overall are far too low to cause any immediate or short-term adverse health effects.” – USA Today

Notably, they make no mention of long-term effects, as they are still studying them, but for now they are attempting to ease the public’s concern over eating rice. They stated that the highest levels of arsenic are found in brown rice and the lowest in rice wine (basically most nutritious to least.) They recommend varying the type of grains you eat just to be careful.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop eating brown rice altogether though, as there are a number of ways to reduce the levels of arsenic in your rice (rinsing, soaking, boiling in larger quantities of water, etc.). And nutritionally, you get the best bang for your buck with brown rice (as opposed to white rice). Check out these tips: Rice

Arsenic levels also vary from region to region:

“Arsenic occurs naturally in soil worldwide. Most crops don’t take it up. However, rice is grown in flooded fields. That changes the soil chemistry, releasing arsenic locked up in soil minerals so it can be taken up by the rice’s roots. The amount of arsenic in rice varies by local conditions. In the USA, California rice has lower arsenic levels than rice from Texas and Arkansas.” – USA Today

Dr. Michael Greger or suggested in 2009 avoiding rice grown abroad (see the embedded video above) as it is often grown in flooded fields. He has also suggested that part of the reason rice grown in Texas and Arkansas may have higher levels of arsenic (compared to other parts of the US) is because of the poultry farming done in those states.

Next: Find out why poultry farming in linked to arsenic in rice!

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Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


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2:20PM PDT on Oct 4, 2013


8:23AM PDT on Sep 23, 2013

Our entire commercial food supply needs an overhaul, STAT!

4:33AM PDT on Sep 17, 2013

The FDA was only responding to the report from Consumer Reports who did an analysis they printed in November 2012. Among other things the report recommends only eating rice products 2 to 3 times a week (including processed items with rice in them). It also explains that the arsenic levels are so high in certain areas of the country: "The U.S. is the world’s leading user of arsenic, and since 1910 about 1.6 million tons have been used for agricultural and industrial purposes, about half of it only since the mid-1960s. Residues from the decades of use of lead-arsenate insecticides linger in agricultural soil today, even though their use was banned in the 1980s... In the U.S. as of 2010, about 15 percent of rice acreage was in California, 49 percent in Arkansas, and the remainder in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. That south-central region of the country has a long history of producing cotton, a crop that was heavily treated with arsenical pesticides for decades in part to combat the boll weevil beetle." To read the whole report go to and search for 'rice arsenic'.

9:48PM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

That is so sick and cruel. These animals don't what they're eating and to be feeding them they're own kind is so wrong. I doubt if any human would want to eat another human

12:17PM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

So is this just rice in the US then?

2:29AM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

Thank you for this information, I need to change my eating rice cake habit!

2:28AM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

12:29AM PDT on Sep 14, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

9:28PM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

NOW, you tell me.
And, I like brown rice a lot.

3:43PM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

Noted, thx for sharing

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