Arsenic is a potential human carcinogen. Federal regulation limits arsenic in drinking water to 10 parts per billion. (The strictest state-law limit is in New Jersey, where the limit is 5 ppb.) An in-depth study by Consumers Union has found surprisingly high levels of arsenic in foods containing rice. Arsenic gets into food in various ways, mainly because pesticides and fertilizers often contain arsenic. CU is so concerned that it recommends that consumers impose limits on intake of rice containing products. (For instance, CU says that kids under 5 should not regularly drink rice drinks such as rice milk.) Here are CU's recommendations:
Consumers Union believes a [federal] standard for arsenic should be
set for rice, and industry should accelerate efforts to reduce arsenic
levels in rice. They should also develop types of rice that take up less
arsenic, and use rice with the lowest possible arsenic [amounts] in products for
young children, such as infant rice cereal.
Our scientists are also asking regulators to prohibit agricultural practices that may lead to increases in arsenic in rice:
- The EPA should phase out use of pesticides containing arsenic.
- The USDA and the EPA should end the use of arsenic-laden manure as fertilizer.
- The FDA should ban the feeding of arsenic-containing drugs and animal byproducts to animals.
Go here for an LA Times story on the CU study.