Acadia

Sep 19, 2012 8:55 PM by Maddie Garrett

Experts Say Study Finding High Levels of Arsenic in Rice is Nothing New

A new study released Wednesday by "Consumer Reports" found high levels of arsenic in rice and rice products. "Consumer Reports" suggests that the FDA should regulate how much rice a person should consume. But is this cause for alarm? Experts at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station said no.

Steve Linscombe is the director of the Rice Research Station and has been studying rice, and tracking arsenic levels for over 20 years. He explained why they study arsenic levels in rice.

"The fact that rice is grown under flooded conditions, there tends to be a little higher level in rice than in perhaps other crops, other grain crops," explained Linscombe.

But when he saw the "Consumer Reports" article on high arsenic levels in rice, his advice was not to over-react.

"I think the important point here is that the US FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, has been looking at arsenic in rice on a detailed level since 1991, for 21 years. And they have looked at many different samples of rice, and up to this point in time they don't see any reason to regulate the amount of rice one eats," he said.

Linscombe also said that arsenic in rice is nothing new; it naturally occurs in the environment and they haven't seen a sudden spike in arsenic levels.

"This is not something all of a sudden we've got more arsenic in rice. This rice field behind me has been in production for a hundred years, and there's no more arsenic coming out of that field into that rice today than when that field was first put into production," said Linscombe.

Linscombe said arsenic is everywhere, in the soil, in the water and can be found in most foods you eat. Like most foods, moderation is key.

"What the FDA is saying is just like with any particular food or any particular product, you need to watch the amount that you eat. We don't want our diet down here to be 100% rice," said Linscombe.

The FDA is expected to release a new study on arsenic levels in rice at the end of the year. It said at this point, there's no indication that rice consumption needs to be regulated.

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