ARLINGTON, Va.—The USA Rice Federation (USA Rice) is calling recent media coverage of a study that found high levels of arsenic in organic brown rice syrup misleading because arsenic is ubiquitous and present in air, soil, water and foods.
There currently are no standards or limits for arsenic in food, and dietary exposure to arsenic comes from a variety of different sources, including fruits, fruit juice, vegetables and other grains. Sources in the U.S. rice syrup industry have indicated that organic brown rice syrup is not widely used in U.S. food products.
Much of the arsenic in U.S. rice is organic arsenic, the less harmful kind, versus the inorganic type, which has been linked to a variety of adverse health effects from excessively high levels in drinking water.
In a statement, USA Rice said: “Research studies incorrectly compare the total arsenic in rice to the safe drinking water limit (10 ppb) of inorganic arsenic. The drinking water standard is intended to limit arsenic exposure from water and is in addition to background exposures from the diet. It is not intended to be applied to other sources.
USA Rice is working with federal agencies as they examine the levels of total arsenic in rice. Further, U.S. government officials responsible for food safety regularly test food products to ensure consumer safety. While the results of recent agency tests are pending, U.S.-grown rice remains a safe, wholesome food for all consumers. USA Rice and its members are committed to consumer food safety.
Background levels of arsenic in rice or rice products have not been associated with health effects, unlike much higher levels of arsenic in drinking water. There are no scientific studies that have linked U.S. rice consumption to adverse health effects, nor have arsenic-related health effects been reported among populations with high rice consumption. In fact, in the absence of drinking water with heavy arsenic contamination, arsenic health effects have not been found in any population that consumes much more rice than the average American."
The issue of arsenic and food safety was in the headlines back in September 2011, when Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show," told viewers that tests he’d commissioned found 10 of three dozen apple-juice samples with total arsenic levels exceeding 10 parts per billion (ppb). In November 2011, a Consumer Reports investigation revealed 10% of its apple juice samples, from five brands, had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards.
FDA promptly issued a press release reassuring consumers about the safety of apple juice, and claiming most arsenic in juices and other foods is of the organic type that is “essentially harmless."