The FDA released yesterday preliminary results of its tests of arsenic on rice products. It seems that the FDA released that information only after Consumers Reports released their own study. What is even more disconcerting is that this is not a new finding. Scientists have known this for years which once again makes me question the role of the FDA. Funny that this story comes out shortly after we started eating rice again. I guess I am back to feeding my family quinoa.
There is a lot of reading on this subject so I am just going to give you the short and not so sweet version.
- There is an organic and inorganic version of arsenic. The inorganic version is the really bad one and the toxic one. The organic version is naturally occurring. The inorganic version is traced back to pesticide use decades ago (currently banned) but that still remains in the soil.
- Why is it bad? Arsenic has been linked to various cancers and heart disease. What is most worrisome is that arsenic is harmful to the brain development of babies either through their exposure in the womb and in their first months of life.
- It does not matter if you feed your family organic or conventional foods. Both have it.
- Arsenic was found not just in rice but in products with rice as an ingredient. Baby formulas (particularly organic kinds), Rice Crispies, Rice milk…to name a few.
- Particularly bad are rice products with rice that originated in Southern states such as Texas and Louisiana. Apparently, that is where the pesticides containing arsenic were widely used for cotton production and therefore it is common in those soils.
What is a parent to do? It is very frustrating that in the FDA report there is no recommendation on how much rice you can eat. The Consumers Report study does set forth some recommendations, but as a parent you will have to set your own limits. Some experts are recommending that you do not feed rice to children under 5 years of age. Also check the labels. There are some products such as chips and formulas that contain rice ingredients. If you are looking for an alternative, try quinoa. We love it!
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