Troubling Levels of Arsenic in Rice Spurs FDA to Conduct Risk Assessment

Should you think twice before ordering that fried rice? A recent analysis of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data says that you might want to. A recent article in Oryza detailed how a private non-profit organization looked at data from more than 1,300 samples of white rice from the FDA, and found that the grain contains arsenic above typically acceptable levels. High levels of arsenic in the body can lead to poisoning and even death.

The study found that parboiled rice has the highest levels of inorganic arsenic, with an average of 114 parts per billion (ppb), while instant rice has the lowest levels of element, at an average of 59 ppb. The study also found that medium-grain rice from California has lower levels of inorganic arsenic than rice grown in other parts of the U.S. 

Arsenic is also showing up in rice beverages—such as those used as milk substitutes, and in beer. Of 65 samples tested, ten had arsenic levels in the range of 15 ppb to 26 ppb. Keep in mind that the FDA prescribes an acceptable level of total arsenic at 10 ppb in drinking water.

In light of these troubling findings, the FDA plans to conduct a risk assessment to help manage the potential risks that come with consuming rice and rice products. A powerful risk analysis tool such as @RISK will likely be used for this study.

@RISK has been used to evaluate potential public health risks, including donor blood screening for the hepatitis B virus, the threat of Listeria bacteria in eggs, and vomitoxin contamination in wheat products.

See also: "Ensuring Food Safety with Monte Carlo Simulation" in Risk Management Monitor

Unsafe Seafood? Monte Carlo Analysis Finds Increased Cancer Risk Due to Arsenic-heavy Seafood


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