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!


” … researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found levels of arsenic in chicken feather meal up to 100 times that found in apple juice by Dr. Oz last year and 10 times that just found in rice. Feather meal is made from the billion pounds of feathers plucked from chicken carcasses annually (sometimes with heads, guts, manure, and feet thrown in to increase protein and mineral content) and is fed to farmed fish, pigs, poultry, and cattle as well as used to fertilize both conventional and organic crops. Chicken manure is also used directly as feed and fertilizer and has been found to significantly increase arsenic levels in the soil.“ -  How Much Arsenic In Rice Came From Chickens? (bolding mine)

It appears that rice is not the issue, but the way it is grown and fertilized may be. The solution in the long run seems to demand a new sustainable way of growing rice that does not leach arsenic from the soil, and one where our rice crops are not fertilized with waste from an industry that is callous enough to deliberately feed arsenic to the animals they are raising.

What is happening with our agricultural food system is just one example of how we choose to turn a blind eye to the environmental destruction and cruelty inherent in so much of what we choose to put on our plates.

As we keep poisoning and destroying the planet and our fellow animals, we in turn poison ourselves. The term “karma” seems to apply here.

USA Today – Arsenic in Rice

Related Stories:

The Sad Story Behind Down & Feather Harvesting
Urban Beekeeping Bad For Bees?
80% of Antibiotics in the U.S. Go to Factory Farms

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Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore2 years ago


Mara Comitas
Mara Comitas2 years ago

Our entire commercial food supply needs an overhaul, STAT!

David O.
David O.2 years ago

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'.

Mercie Arzola
Mercie Arzola2 years ago

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

Wendy G.
Wendy G.2 years ago

So is this just rice in the US then?

Shalvah Landy
Past Member 2 years ago

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

Christine W.
Christine W.2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Genoveva M.
Genoveva M G.2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush2 years ago

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

Wim Zunnebeld
Wim Zunnebeld2 years ago

Noted, thx for sharing