New research shows that the rice you eat probably contains arsenic.
But should that worry you?
New studies come out constantly with findings that more often confuse consumers rather than help them. Rice found in a snack bar for toddlers turned out to have alarmingly-high amounts of arsenic: 6x the 10 parts per billion limit for drinking water. Cereal bars made with brown rice syrup or rice flour had levels ranging from 23-128 p.p.b.
Unfortunately, no one knows what levels are safe, since the drinking water levels were predicated on people drinking a lot of water.
And arsenic concentrations vary, depending on where it was grown and the variety; rice from some parts of Asia is irrigated with wells contaminated by arsenic, and brown rice tends to have more of the poison than white. The arsenic gets into the rice because chemically it’s similar to silica, which rice needs to grow, so the plant sucks up arsenic more than other species.
Arsenic poisoning can cause thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, numbness in the hands and feet, partial paralysis and blindness. As was reported in Broad Street Licensing Group’s subscription newsletter Food Industry Newsletter, legislation to force the FDA to set standards for arsenic & lead in fruit juice is now before Congress for over a year after tests by Consumer Reports showed high levels in some juices tested.
Not surprising, the USA Rice Federation calls the information “misleading” because arsenic “is ubiquitous and present in air, soil, water, and foods.” The industry mouthpiece also claims the arsenic is “organic” (occurring naturally in the rice) and therefore less dangerous than “inorganic” arsenic that is a threat to drinking water.
Wow, that’s so reassuring!
 Source: a Dartmouth College study published in Environmental Science and Technology.
 Source: the Environmental Protection Agency.