Arsenic in Rice

Posted On Thursday, 25 October 2012
Arsenic in Rice
Dr. Oz broke the story that arsenic was contaminating our apple juice. And despite heavy criticism at the time from many in the news media and even from the FDA official spokeperson, Dr. Oz's medical unit data was proven correct, and the juice companies are reforming.

Now another food that is contaminated with arsenic.

On average, a typical North American Adult (USA and Canada data) consumes 25 pounds of rice per year—that's a lot of rice! Rice is a staple grain in the American diet that is typically touted for being healthy. Recently, however, rice has been under the microscope for possibly being toxic. Shocking headlines released in recent news highlighted new data on arsenic levels in rice, causing all of us to question—is the grain safe to eat?

Reports on the matter provided conflicting messages. Some suggested consumers temporarily stop eating rice while others recommended limiting daily portions. Which is best for YOUR health? This blog should help you answer these questions for you and your family.

The newest arsenic in rice data came from investigations conducted by Consumer Reports and the Food and Drug Administration. Theses two groups tested a wide range of 200 popular rice-based foods such as: brown rice, crackers, and cereal. In many they found measurable amounts of two forms of arsenic—inorganic and organic.

Organic arsenic is thought the less toxic form but you don't want to mess around with inorganic. Inorganic increases bladder, lung, and skin cancer. But before you frantically rush home to dispose of the rice in your kitchen cupboard, consider:

1. Arsenic is naturally occurring. Arsenic compounds are naturally found in water, food, air, and soil. The FDA released a summary of the preliminary data that they conducted. Of the 52 samples of Basmati rice that were tested, an average of 3.5 mcg of inorganic arsenic were present per serving. Ugh, while there is no federal limit that exists for arsenic, arsenic sounds like a big, scary monster. But researchers do not know how much you can tolerate without being harmed. None is even safer, we agree.

2. These are preliminary results. The FDA and Consumer Reports found similar results. But the FDA didn't want to offend anyone—save maybe not keeping you the safest, as FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Michael Taylor stated, "It is critical to not get ahead of the science". Right now, the science is not conclusive. The FDA plans to test 1,000 additional rice products by the end of the year to collect more concrete data. The ongoing tests will account for possible differences in soil types, geography, and environmental conditions.

But don't wait...take these three steps.

quinoa salad1. Chose to vary your grains and where you get em – get em harvested from a variety of spots. This approach reduces potential consequences from eating a lot of a specific contaminated food item. Even buying different brands at different stores often means they are harvested from different sites.

2. Substitute 100% whole grain pasta and quinoa etc. for rice.

3. And reduce your exposure to both forms of arsenic by changing the way you prepare it. After removing the rice (whole grain we hope) from the bag, rinse the raw grains under running water. When you are cooking the rice, add six cups of water for every cup of rice and drain the excess water when the cooking time expires. This reduces unwanted chemicals.

Michael Roizen, MD

Dr. Mike is a New York Times #1 bestselling author and co-founder of the well-known website, along with Dr. Mehmet Oz. He is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic and health expert on Oprah.

Dr. Mike hosts the popular YOU The Owner's Manual Radio Show here on, and on radio stations nationwide.

You can also visit his latest partnership with Dr. Oz at

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