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New Study Finds Concerning Levels Of Arsenic In Rice Products

FDA Also Conducting Study, Says Overall Consumption Doesn't Need To Change
Brown Rice (credit: CBS 2)

Brown Rice (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Disturbing findings about a dangerous chemical that can be found in rice has parents especially worried.

A new Consumer Reports study of rice products — including rice drinks and infant cereals — found concerning levels of arsenic in many of them.

The study found higher levels of arsenic in brown rice than white rice because of the way it is processed. It also found higher levels of arsenic in rice produced in southern states than in rice from California or Asia.

“Rice is grown in water and soil in a way that it appears to absorb the arsenic a bit more than other foods,” said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg.

Harriet Ingram said she feeds her children rice about once a week.

“Whether you’re a parent or not, it’s worrisome,” she told CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez.

Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment and there are two kinds.

The FDA said organic arsenic passes through the body quickly and is essentially harmless. Inorganic arsenic, the type found in pesticides, can cause cancer. Some doctors believe it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to children.

“Feed them barley, oats, other grains — rather than rice, ” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

The FDA is in the middle of its own large study. Commissioner Hamburg said even though its preliminary results also show levels of arsenic higher than expected, people should not stop eating rice.

“There is no need based on available data and the scientific literature to change dietary consumption of rice overall,” Hamburg said.

The FDA recommends eating rice in moderation, not only for a balanced diet, but to minimize any risk.

Even though inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen, there’s no agreement on what amount is safe or poses a health risk since arsenic is found in many foods.

The FDA is expected to complete its own rice study in a few months and may make some recommendations then.

Will this study change your dietary habits?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below…