Is Your Rice Safe to Eat?

Arsenic in Rice. Rice flour contains arsenic.

The FDA recently tested 1,300 samples of rice and rice products and found a deadly carcinogen. But somehow they concluded that it was okay to continue eating it. Something isn’t adding up.

Their official statement on the findings is that the levels of this poison are so low they don’t present a health danger. “All the data suggest levels that are not high enough to give us cause for concern for immediate or near-term effects,” said FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg.1

And there’s the problem. What does “immediate or near-term effects” mean? Pretty much nothing. Just because something doesn’t kill you now doesn’t mean it won’t kill you later. Chronic exposure to this poison damages DNA2 and leads to cancers of the skin, bladder, liver, and lung.3

Americans have been eating rice for a very long time. It’s a cheap, staple food in most households. Many families eat it several times a week if not every day. Athletes and the gluten-free community rely on it as alternative protein and wheat-free grain.

Even so, the FDA is telling consumers this carcinogen is harmless. You won’t even believe what it is…

Arsenic is hiding in your rice.

But here’s the “good news”… The FDA is going to continue to investigate the findings. And they’re warning consumers to eat a wide variety of grains so they’re not consuming too much rice.

Once again, they’re contradicting themselves. So is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA set limits of arsenic in drinking water to 10 parts per billion. The FDA recently set that same “safe” limit on apple juice.

The highest level the FDA considers safe is 10 parts per billion (ppb). During testing, they found that brown rice has an average of 160 parts per billion (ppb) of arsenic.

So just one serving of brown rice has about sixteen times the EPA’s and FDA’s safe level of arsenic.4

Some other alarming numbers include rice protein powder (210 ppb), infant cereal (170 ppb), and brown rice pasta (960 ppb). But most surprising of all is that gluten free products containing rice flour had an average of 40 ppb.5 These are the foods people eat because they’re trying to be healthy!

The focus on rice comes only a short time after learning that most chicken contains arsenic.6 Put chicken and rice together—as many families do—and you’re getting far more arsenic in your diet than you thought.

People who eat rice regularly have 44 percent higher levels of arsenic than those who don’t.7

Arsenic is found naturally in other foods. In its organic state, it’s harmless. But rice, unlike other foods, has a high concentration of harmful inorganic arsenic because of the way it’s grown. Rice shouldn’t be a main staple in your diet if you’re following a lower carbohydrate diet anyway. The easiest change to make is to swap out brown rice for leafy green vegetables as your main source of carbohydrates. But what if you really love rice?

If you are going to treat yourself to some rice every now and then, go with short grain white rice instead of brown rice. Shocking, we know. But it has about half the amount of inorganic arsenic as brown rice.8 Just make sure it’s a treat and not a habit.

We’d say eating organic is better but, in this case, it isn’t. Organic rice contains arsenic too. Arsenic is found naturally in soil and water. It’s absorbed by plants regardless of whether they’re grown under conventional or organic conditions.

One bowl of rice might not make you sick… But all that poison can add up over time. Though the FDA says that these levels of arsenic do not pose a threat, you should do your best to avoid this deadly ingredient.

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Health Topic: Cancer | Diet and Nutrition | Health Warning


  1. Bubba says:

    How about parboiled long grain white rice?

    It has 80% of the nutrients found in long grain brown rice, so if the process of parboiling reduces the arsenic levels, perhaps it may be best from all perspectives, including long-term storage and weevil elimination.

    Did you find any info on this?

  2. John Hasse says:

    On the other hand, while you might easily drink a couple of quarts of water a day (or even a couple of gallons, if you are working hard) it would be difficult to eat much more than a cup of rice (dry) in a day, for that cooks up into about a quart of cooked food.

  3. Jean says:

    If most foods contain some kind of poison, including arsenic, and people have been eating them for eons, presumably without ill effects, why do you make such a fuss about the FDA wanting to look into it more fully?

    I am usually down on the FDA for any number of valid reasons. This is not one of those reasons.

  4. Anne says:

    What about basmati rice.

  5. Kelly says:

    “Americans have been eating rice for a very long time. It’s a cheap, staple food in most households. Many families eat it several times a week if not every day.”

    And newsflash: The Japanese eat it almost every day, if not every day, and have the highest healthy life expectancy of all countries in the world.

    Arsenic can be countered by selenium, and vice versa.

  6. Phil says:

    Trust the FDA!
    At least, in the short term, you shouldn’t have to worry about the Weevils getting your rice before you do!
    And in the long term, if you eat brown rice, you should have no trouble with Tapeworm or Parasites. Maybe this is Gods way to Stamp out Malaria!

  7. Dave says:

    The rice that should be of most concern is rice that is now growing on old cotton growing land. Because cotton growers spray their crops with arsenic laden pesticides, (or at least they use to), to control the boll weevil. Taking chlorella, which comes from algae, is an excellent way to rid the body of heavy metals and toxins. Some people need to start off slowly with chlorella, because of its cleansing effect.

  8. Ade says:

    What kind of food contains selenium..the type that counters arsenic.?

  9. blossom blast saga cheats 140 says:

    Nice answers in return of this query with genuine arguments and telling
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