US FDA urged to look into arsenic levels in rice news
20 September 2012

The US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) might look at new standards for the levels of arsenic in rice with consumer groups pressing for federal guidance on how much of the carcinogen can be present in food, a magazine report in the US said.

FDA officials, however, said they have so far found no evidence suggesting rice was not safe to eat.

The agency, which has studied the issue for decades, is conducting a new study of 1,200 samples of grocery-store rice products - short and long-grain rice, adult and baby cereals, drinks and even rice cakes - to measure arsenic levels.

Rice is considered to contain higher levels of arsenic than most other foods given that it is grown in water on the ground, optimal conditions for the contaminant for absorption into the rice. No federal standards exist on how much arsenic is allowed in food.

Arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil in two forms, organic and inorganic and, according to the FDA, organic arsenic passes through the body quickly and is essentially harmless. Inorganic arsenic that some pesticides and insecticides contain can be toxic and might pose a cancer risk if consumed in sufficient quantities or over a long period.

However, the amount of organic and inorganic arsenic being consumed by rice eaters and whether those levels were dangerous still remained to be seen.

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US FDA urged to look into arsenic levels in rice