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What are you doing about rice?


The report on rice from Consumer Reports has led us to reduce the amount of rice we eat but we are still eating brown rice even though it is higher in arsenic than white rice. FDA recommendation is to eat a varied diet - helpful, no? What to do? What are you doing?

  1. I'm eating it. In fact I'm cooking some tonight to serve with the tagine I'm making. Did you see the FDA page on the subject? http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/Consu...

    We eat basmati almost exclusively.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rasputina

      Let's be honest, the FDA is a flaccid regulatory body who's primary objective has been to shift the burden of food safety to the consumer as it's ability to control the actions of the producers has been consistently undermined for the last two decades. It's hard to have any faith in what they say or do. That being said, the science on the instant issue is still not all in, but, perhaps some prudence is in order.

      More discussion on the recent news:


      1. re: MGZ

        Not the current FDA, which has actually done more about food safety than any other in my recollection.

    2. Yes, I know, it's quite troubling. We eat a lot of white rice, but I'm feeding two growing kids so I guess we will be eating less of it now. More pasta & other grains. Wonder if rinsing it does any good? I usually only rinse the short grain rice. Wish there was more info out there.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

        Rinsing does not help. The arsenic is incorporsted in the plant.


        1. re: GH1618

          Thank you for the link - I had not seen that so it is helpful to know that rinsing does not help so will not bother to rinse it.

          1. re: Bethcooks

            Hmmmm. The FAQ sheet on the Lundberg rice page said rinsing does help.

            Guess I'm more inclined to believe Dartmouth.

            But want to know more.

            1. When I first heard this I wondered if preparation method had any effect on the amount of arsenic left in the rice at consumption. Such as rinsing, soaking ect.

              ETA, also since there is arsenic in water, how much of the arsenic in cooked rice is coming from the water it's cooked with?

              We use the Berkey water filter system including their fluoride/arsenic filters for all our drinking and cooking water.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rasputina

                My guess is that it's filtered out of local drinking water supplies, it's one of the water quality parameters they have to measure.

              2. We, too, are eating it. Don't plan to make any changes at this point in our lives. Have been eating rice for decades with no problems.

                2 Replies
                1. Us, too. We never ate it every day, anyway.

                  1. Not a damn thing.Menu,business as usual until information with solid comparative science is available.

                    1. Nothing.

                      I shall continue to eat my rice (almost on a daily basis) as usual. I eat mostly Indian or Pakistani basmati, anyway, bought from Indian groceries, with the occasional Thai or Chinese rice brands or Californian Japanese rice rarely. Other than the last example, I can't remember the last time I ate USA-origin rice at home. (Rice in restaurants may be a different issue although the stuff in Chinese restaurants I think are likely to be non-USA brands)

                      That Consumer Reports article on arsenic in rice largely deals with processed rice-based products, anyway, with a small initial section on actual rice. Even with all the alarmist verbiage there note also the paragraph where it mentions that fruits/fruit juices and vegetables account for more As than rice according to a 2009 EPA study.

                      Here's someone who just said some commonsensical stuff: http://www.azfamily.com/news/health/A...

                      1 Reply
                      1. Rice and several other products have had known arsenic issues for a long time. This is one of the many reasons to buy organic in general, sparing my grandkids future contamination issues.

                        We only cook brown rice at home so we'll vary the sources more and vary the types of rice more CA long grain, imported Jaspmine, Thai and Japanese. Certified organic if I have a choice.

                        I never buy food produced in China if I can avoid it because the whole supply chain is contaminated.

                        We don't buy a lot of processed rice products and I would never use baby rice cereal so it is really only a matter of rice as a meal.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: JudiAU

                          Buying organic does not guarantee that the rice is low in arsenic. The main concern is with inorganic arsenic compounds that readily dissolve in the water the rice grows in, compounds which can be found in the area rocks and groundwater.

                          There is a theory that rice from the American south tends to be higher in arsenic because of arsenic pesticides that were applied to area cotton crops many years ago. Current organic practices cannot bypass that source.

                          In this case, your concerns about Chinese rice might be misplaced. Various articles that I've read in the past day or two, have commented that China has some of the strictest standards for arsenic in rice. However I don't think we import much rice from China.

                          There's a thread under Media with more links to studies and reports on the topic.

                          1. re: paulj

                            That is my understanding also, it is rice from residual pesticides. I read that cooking rice in lots of water and then draining the water will reduce the amount of arsenic but I would like to see the science on that. I agree with JudiAu - I don't buy food produced in China. Canada has some of the highest food standards in the world but alas, they don't produce rice. For now, I think we will cut back on the rice till I see more information/research.

                            1. re: Bethcooks

                              I wasn't trying to imply that purchasing organic rice would necessarily reduce your exposure to arsenic. Arsenic-containing pesticides are now banned for food production although they are still widely and illegally used in China. China's "standards" are totally meaningless.

                              My point is that farmland is contaminated with arsenic because of previous farming practices. If you want healthy soil in the future you need to support organic farming now.

                              1. re: JudiAU

                                The Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970. By 1978 the EPA had begun action to end the use of pesticides containing arsenic, and in 1988 the registration for calcium arsenate and lead arsenate was withdrawn. These poisons have not been used on crops in the US for a quarter century. It isn't necessary to buy "organic" in order to protect farmland, although organic farming practices certainly help. But the key to protecting the environment is a strong and effective EPA.

                              2. re: Bethcooks

                                If I owned an organic farm, I'd bet it that you eat way more Chinese-produced food than you think. Back when the melamine-tainted pet food was investigated, I remember NPR reporting that it is virtually impossible to avoid. Manufacturers, regardless of location, purchase component ingredients like spices, seasonings, gums, vegetable and fruit powders, etc., from China. If you buy canned or packaged products, regardless of what the label says, Chinese products are involved. Even if you cook "from scratch". My "scratch" includes condiments, peanut butter, nuts, dried fruits and legumes, etc.
                                I have to assume that these and other items in my pantry are at least partially Chinese.

                          2. I would think that a lot of folks would be more concerned about the air they breathe 24/7, than a serving of rice a couple times a week..........

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Uncle Bob

                              Of course, you are both right but alas, can do nothing about the air and we have to eat. My husband ate rice almost every night as he loves rice so cutting back is reducing to a couple of times a week. Am mulling over my rice cooking method. Have discovered that he loves orzo even more than rice so will be substituting orzo or potatoes.

                            2. We used to eat a lot of rice, accidentally cut down already, will still eat it at least once a week. We will read more of the studies though.

                              1. I mostly use Indian basmati. I'll keep making rice, but if I buy domestic rice I'll get Californian. The problem is mainly with rice from the southeast.

                                1. I eat rice about once or twice a week.

                                  What am I going to do?
                                  Nothing... This is akin to the mad cow scare where people stopped eating beef for a couple months.

                                  The FDA has been looking into this for at least 20 years. We've all been eating rice with arsenic all this time with no ill effects. Arsenic may have been the rice for 100 years. We only recently figured it out.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: dave_c

                                    "The FDA has been looking into this for at least 20 years. We've all been eating rice with arsenic all this time with no ill effects. Arsenic may have been the rice for 100 years. We only recently figured it out."

                                    Please provide a cite?

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      None of the sources are claiming that the presence of arsenic has risen in, say the last 50 years, with the possible exception of Bangladesh, where new deep wells increased its abundance in irrigation water.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        Much of the rice contamination has changed because rice is now grown in fields previously used for cotton with arsenic used in the production. So yes, the presence of inorganic arsenic has probably not increased but the organic/pesticide has.

                                      2. re: MGZ

                                        From the FDA link from reply #1 by Rasputina, "FDA has been monitoring arsenic levels in rice for more than 20 years. Its analysis thus far does not show any evidence of a change in total arsenic levels."

                                        My point is the arsenic has been around at least 20 years with proof and study. I would hazard to GUESS that arsenic has been around before that. 25 years, 30 years, 50 years, 100 years? That can only be inferred.

                                        My ultimate point is that people freak out about things without knowing the whole story.
                                        1) Arsenic has been in rice for at least 20 years with no apparent ill effects.
                                        2) There is no defined "safe level" of arsenic. How can people freak without knowing what the acceptable level is?

                                        1. re: dave_c

                                          It is prudent to be concerned (not "freaked out") about arsenic in food be ause it is a cumulative poison. The unsafe level can depend on variables such as prior exposure, how much rice (or other source) is in one's diet, pregnancy, and so forth.


                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            It's not cumulative. That is, it does not accumulate in tissues. Most is secreted by the kidneys, though it can also be detected in dead cells like finger nails and hair. Thus the acute effects depend on the current dose. There may be a long term effect that appears in form of cancer, but that is not as well understood. But the long term low dosage effects of many substances are to difficult to identify and study.

                                    2. Here's an analogy to the rice thing.

                                      A friend of mine years ago told me that her Grandpa used to say that butter is like asbestos. It's all wonderful until someone decide's it's not. So he was going to just go on eating butter the way he always had.

                                      1. Business as usual. Doesn't even make me flinch. Will continue to eat rice 5-7 days a week, some days at multiple meals.

                                        1. Think about all the harmful preservatives, additives not just in food, antibiotics and hormones in meat, pesticides, and the dangerous packaging of food (PFOA's, BHA, BHT, etc. . . ), and I'm not so worried about arsenic.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Tudor_rose

                                            I avoid those others, too.

                                          2. I'd bet there are genetic variations in how we handle arsenic. I wonder if there is a test?

                                            1. Hmmmmm.....
                                              Since I am nearly 50 and have been consuming rice and/or rice products 1-3 times per week? Pretty much nothing different.
                                              I always rinse and drain before cooking.
                                              Other than that perhaps I should up my life insurance policy pay-out for my daughter.

                                              1. This reminds me that I want to try making horchata.

                                                13 Replies
                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Tudor_rose [love that name] you are so right. I don't even like to think about it. I do the best I can but who knows??? I think it might be more serious for children???? It certainly would be easy to cut out rice cereal for babies just as a precaution till more is known.

                                                    1. re: Bethcooks

                                                      Thanks! Small children are always super susceptible to the crap in our food. It's not just rice. I'm super mad about the fact that plastic baby bottles had dangerous chemicals in them. I am always reading labels, and trying to buy organic when I can, but food packaging is the nightmare no one speaks of. I now am buying tomatoes in glass jars because of BPA in can liners.

                                                      1. re: Tudor_rose

                                                        Muir Glen no longer uses bpa in its cans. And they are on sale right now at WF.

                                                        1. re: JudiAU

                                                          Thanks. I heard they still did. The problem is I like the San Marzano tomatoes, and I can find them in glass jars at Whole Foods.

                                                          1. re: Tudor_rose

                                                            Are tomatoes coming in those cardboard-looking boxes? And how does that packaging compare? Does anyone know?

                                                            It seems like I'm seeing some more of those boxes at my coop.

                                                            1. re: karykat

                                                              your boxes,"tetrapacks" ,do not recycle

                                                              1. re: lcool

                                                                your boxes,"tetrapacks" ,do not recycle
                                                                Depends on where you live. In my county they go into the blue bin.

                                                                1. re: al b. darned

                                                                  Into the blue bin here also.karykat asked a comparative recycle question.As recently as 4 months ago the science,engineering did not include "recycle",only municipal
                                                                  decisions about what is in the stream.The county next door has single stream recycling encompassing a few things that don't recycle.

                                                            2. re: Tudor_rose

                                                              Do you still plan on buying the SM tomatoes with the BPA treated cans?

                                                              Do you eat a lot of canned food products?

                                                              1. re: Tudor_rose

                                                                Here's info (hopefully reputable) on what is in bpa-free cans:

                                                                Specifically, about Muir Glen and other tomatoes:

                                                                Muir Glen notes that their canned tomatoes with expiration date 2013 or later are also BPA-free. The only way to tell if it is a BPA-free can is to buy it and then look at the color of the liner inside. If the liner is white, it is a BPA can. If the liner is an off-white color (yellow, copper, redish, pinkish color), then it is a BPA-free can.

                                                                A little more about what has bpa and what doesn't:

                                                                (Now back to rice.)

                                                                1. re: Tudor_rose

                                                                  Glass jars are great, but there can still be BPA on the lining of the lid...


                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    Good reminder not to store them upside down. ;-)

                                                      2. I'm being thankful my daughter in law has chosen breastfeeding, and is not using the baby formulas with the quote "shocking levels of arsenic"

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: Berheenia

                                                          Ironic that arguably the only ethical producer of formula is the one who had the problem. Brown rice syrup is a higher quality sweetener than the other (shameful) organic companies. But anyway, Baby's Own found a new supply for rice and now has very low levels of arsenic.

                                                          No personal experience with it.

                                                          1. re: JudiAU

                                                            In what way is brown rice syrup 'higher quality'?

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              Here is a link to "hidden arsenic" at alarming levels in brown rice syrup: abcnews.go.com › Health Honestly, I have to stop reading this stuff!

                                                              1. re: Bethcooks


                                                                What do you mean doing?

                                                                I eat the stuff-Basmati for dinner last night short grain white for lunch w/Sushi today-what do you mean 'doing'?

                                                                1. re: Sam Salmon

                                                                  I'm guessing your question was for the OP, not Bethcooks?

                                                                  By 'doing' I expect they mean 'what (if any) diet changes are you making in the light of concerns recently raised about the levels of arsenic in rice'.

                                                                  Does this help?

                                                                  1. re: Robin Joy

                                                                    Yanquis don't understand sarcasm at all.

                                                                    1. re: Sam Salmon

                                                                      Oh, I'm not so sure about that, but it's true that us Brits have been at it for quite a while. I was only being mildly sarcastic, just a little joke for my own amusement.

                                                                      I'm heading out for a ricefest!

                                                        2. Eating it. Not sweating the small stuff---i.e. hype of the day. If rice were toxic, it would be obvious.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: applgrl

                                                            Not if you distinguish between chronic vs. acute exposure. The connections are not made in the former.

                                                            1. re: applgrl

                                                              That is not a good way to look at it, whether or not it is a problem in this particular case. By the time poisoning becomes obvious, it is too late to do anything about it.

                                                            2. We eat rice 5-6 times a month and don't plan to change. My favorite is "Texmati" and don't really plan to change that either.

                                                              1. I eat rice just as i always have.

                                                                There are so many _other_ questionable things we unknowingly eat thanks to the lack of disclosure requirements in labeling...it's getting to where more than half of the foods we buy are genetically engineered via gene splicing, or made with ingredients which are .
                                                                I'm more concerned about the FDA's inept handling of labeling requirements and being lobbied to not allow informed choice about GE foods. Such information is required on food packaging in much of the rest of the civilized world.

                                                                1. Still eating it! A gazillion Asians cannot be wrong. In moderation of course.

                                                                  While taking my PhD oral exam in the Dark Ages, I was ask to define 'poison.' After trying to put together a cogent definition and failing, the interrogator responded 'TOO MUCH.'

                                                                  Having visited the FDA on several occasions as a Clinical Trials Statistician, I found the FDA buffoons, most of whom did not have English as their first language, lacking in common sense.

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ChiliDude

                                                                    What does their native language have to do with their abilities, exactly?

                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                      At the FDA,NIH and a few others the non native language speakers were way behind the curve of aggressive work place skills for a long time.(into the 90's)
                                                                      Worse yet,often would not speak up when things were WRONG.Sometimes they simply did not have the mother tongue skills to be effective or the culturally ingrained pecking order,
                                                                      hierarchy issues ruled the day,right or wrong.All further up the food,power chain deferred to.

                                                                      1. re: lcool

                                                                        And where were all these vaunted native English speakers? Why weren't they learning skills in STEM fields so there would be enough such folks around to be hired to staff the infrastructure that actually supports the entire country and actually invents and produces stuff through hands-on work? **

                                                                        ** As opposed to learning stuff that does things like that characterized by a certain vampire squid described in Rolling Rock magazine.

                                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                                          Truth is as one of the native language folks,I would be the first to admit it was 99% of our own doing.Our behavior,cultural position did suck equally.Were not really looking at who,why and where for regarding the scientist shortage in an environment rapidly becoming political.They was changing times in a big way,no more smallpox,thalidomide never prescribed here,2 polio vaccines and the list goes on.Hubris,arrogance and impatience were big players in a changing world environment.

                                                                    2. re: ChiliDude

                                                                      I eat rice for at least 2 meals a day - probably 3 or 4. My bet is even the deep fried chicken uses rice flower. It is of course all Thai rice - both sticky and Jasmine rice..... some directly from farms of friens... and this report will not change my eating habits.

                                                                      1. re: cacruden

                                                                        How many meals do you eat in a day??

                                                                    3. I'm living in a bunker myself. Also, no apples because they have arsenic too.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: AlkieGourmand

                                                                        Too funny! Now it's Trader Joe's peanut butter that is being recalled because of salmonella outbreaks in 28 states. May also have to move into a bunker but what foods do I stock?

                                                                      2. Am doing what I have always done - rice as main starch source and wheat second.

                                                                        Except I am experimenting with different varieties and brands, pursuing the 'best' tasting one and finding it not an easy job. I suspect a very significant factor, one consumers have little control over, is the age of the rice grains since I have been told by reliable sources that just-harvested NEW rice is much superior in taste than older rice.

                                                                        If arsenic occurs naturally, perhaps the best we can expect is no additional amount has been accumulated through current and past use of As-containing herbicides/fungicides. Do we know the baseline level? Talking about applying herbicides and fungicides, doesn't it cost money to do? In my mind, I see farmers (too poor to buy chemicals) bending down to do the planting, weeding and harvesting of rice in fields in China and I see big machines doing the planting, SPRAYING and harvesting of corn in the US. Before I worry about the level of arsenic in rice from China, I'd think about eating corn grown here. Sounds pretty futile a thing to do, does't it?

                                                                        I am thinking...is there an organic rice farm that sells shares in the US? THAT would give me the best chance of getting some baseline and tasty rice...

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: borntolovefood

                                                                          When posters talk about avoiding rice from China, and seeking organic rice instead, they are not basing that on the recently published tests for arsenic. They are just making assumptions - stuff from China is bad; organic stuff is good. What's causing consternation in the eating-healthy world is evidence that inorganic arsenic can turn up in organic brown rice simply because of where it is grown, and what is in the water. Going organic makes little difference if arsenic is naturally abundant in the soil and water, or was used on cotton crops 40 years ago.

                                                                          is the arsenic FAQ from Lundberg farms, one of the larger California growers and distributors of organic and 'eco-farmed' rice and rice products.

                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                            ...and what you comment about makes me roll my eyes even more with regards to these folks.

                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                Perhaps you are unaware that China has a serious problem with the widespread, illegal use of arsenic in food production? This is the reason why apple products from China are so heavily contaminated with arsenic. US grown apples are sometimes contaminated by previous use of arsenic, when it was still legal for food crops. Chinese contamination is from current, widespread, illegal use.

                                                                                If you follow food news you will see the same issues, over and over. China has strict standards that are totally unenforced until a scandal causes a few people to be executed.

                                                                            1. I am overwhelmed by all this sudden outburst of information on this matter! It is alarming that brown rice in general has more arsenic than white, given I have been switching to more whole grains lately.

                                                                              We eat a lot of rice in our household, and we rotate between basmati, jasmine, long, short, sticky, red, brown, white, purple etc., and imported from all over the world. I am not in a hurry to throw them out of my pantry or change my diet any time soon, and I am hoping that there will be more meaningful standards and information coming out soon.

                                                                              So far, it is confusing. I suppose the only strategy right now is to diversify my sources, with respect to country/region of origin? If someone is kind enough to collect all the related information and come up with a more definitive guide of recommended country/regions of origin to seek/avoid, that would be very helpful.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: vil

                                                                                California rice has lower levels of arsenic than rice from the Gulf Coast states, because the problem stems from prior cotton farming practices in those states.

                                                                              2. I'm sorry if I come across as flip on this matter, but I just hear things like this coming up now and again, and unless it's serious (like a boil water advisory) I just continue as normal. If you're healthy, your body will sort out and process small amounts of toxins. And, arsenic is naturally occuring.
                                                                                I eat a lot of rice and always have. I'll just keep on eating. I'm going to hazard a guess and say that after dinner cocktail is way more toxic to my system than rice.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: alliegator

                                                                                  There is a fallacy here. Yes, arsenic is naturally occurring. But when an arsenate is applied to cropland for many years, the arsenic content can become far higher than normal. And when a crop is grown that takes up arsenic, as rice does, the arsenic concentrates in the crop. Even though most people may not be adversely affected, this problem is a serious one that needs watching.

                                                                                2. I've stopped reading news about rice. I'm also hoping that the reports cause the prices of rice to drop, just in time for the release of the new crop.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. I think that the diversity of views on this thread reflects different views on risk.

                                                                                    Some people (I count myself among them) think we are susceptible to poisons that may affect us in lower amounts over a longer term. So effects may not be immediately apparent.

                                                                                    Others just don't care.

                                                                                    I guess we can share information about where the risk is greater (part of the world rice comes from and types of processed rice products).

                                                                                    But we probably aren't going to end up changing which view of risk we have.

                                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: karykat

                                                                                      Some people (I count myself among them) think we are susceptible to poisons that may affect us in lower amounts over a longer term. So effects may not be immediately apparent.

                                                                                      Others just don't care.

                                                                                      I'm not sure "...just don't care." Is entirely accurate. My odometer just rolled over into a new decade, and at the risk of sounding "old" I have to say I've heard similar tunes for years. The latest food, water, additive, etc. that's going to kill us all. Followed soon by the latest food, water, additive that will make us live forever. Rice and apple juice are going to get us, unless hfcs...i mean "corn sugar" or the tomatoes in the cans lined with BPA don't get us first. But not to worry! Oat bran, acai, chia seeds, and Pom Wonderful will save us.

                                                                                      While scientific data is often lacking on both ends of the spectrum, the rice scare seems to be a non-issue. The levels have been studied for almost a quarter of a century with no change in the arsenic levels. Unlike other toxins, arsenic doesn't accumulate, either.

                                                                                      My fear is that one day we will be like the people in the fable of the boy who cried wolf. We read, we react, we find out the "scare" was either overblown or non-existent. When a real "this will kill us all" discovery is announced we will all yawn and say, 'Yeah, right.."

                                                                                      In the interim, the people reporting on this latest scare are, IMO, like Chicken Little.

                                                                                      I think I'll warm up some of the cold rice that is in the firdge.

                                                                                      1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                        Perhaps "just don't care" is not well put. Maybe a better way to put it would be "greater skepticism about risk."

                                                                                        For me, there is a problem when something may cause ill effects in low doses over a long period of time. Because there are not the kind of long-term, low-dose studies that can address that. So the question is whether or not you want to assume the risk, in the absence of good studies.

                                                                                        So again, basic outlooks on risk.

                                                                                        1. re: karykat

                                                                                          Maybe a better way to put it would be "greater skepticism about risk."
                                                                                          That's a fair statement, but as I said, we've heard this tune before. I am amazed at the number of things that were supposed to be the death or savoir of us all, only to be the latest to flare out.

                                                                                          In this case, Consumers Reports should have known better. They "discovered" something the feds discovered over 20 years ago and have been monitoring ever since. Even tho I have subscribed to CR for decades, I get annoyed at their periodic Chicken Little reaction to something...and this is one of them.

                                                                                          1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                            Yes, coffee bad... then good as long as caffeinated and in moderation. Wine bad, then good in moderation. Beer bad, then good in moderation. Butter bad, but then the replacement worse (transfaty acids), not bad in moderation and balanced between good and bad colesterol. Hmmm..... common thread..... don't feed the rats 100 times what is considered normal consumption -- or everything in moderation :o

                                                                                            1. re: cacruden

                                                                                              This isn't the same thing... arsenic IS a proven poison and these levels are higher than anticipated for a toxin with no known safe level. That's not the same as the other issues you cited where there was zero proof for harm from fats, except manipulated fats, there is no causal effect of high cholesterol, nor harm from coffee etc. and industry kept flogging the stupid conjecture for profits.

                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                Caffeine is a proven poison - people have died from it when taking a higher than anticipated amount. At amounts less than 150 ppb of arsenic you will likely have no more problems than average although WHO recommends no more than 10 ppb. For something that occurs naturally in nature (as opposed to contamination) we have been exposed to low levels of arsenic for as long as we have farmed. If you are not in an area where the well water has been contaminated by additional arsenic - then the food that is farmed will have a certain amount of toxins that will not harm you disproportionately. There are bigger worries than this one for most people in the western world.

                                                                                                1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                  There is no analogy for caffeine; there are safe levels of consumption. There is no safe level of arsenic consumption established.

                                                                                                  You don't seem to be distinguishing between hysteria and caution.

                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                    You CANNOT prove a safe level of consumption, you can only come close to proving an unsafe level of consumption through statistics, but you can prove levels that are fatal.

                                                                                                    I am distinguishing between hysteria and caution, the rice arsenic levels are hysteria (except for places like Bangladesh, where my sister is based, where the ground water has been contaminated). If I am to worry about anything, it would be the over-application of pesticides.

                                                                                                    For some reason people seem to think that rice, and only rice, absorbs up all the arsenic and everything else they eat is safe. If unsafe arsenic levels are in the food chain, it is in everything that you eat within that food chain.

                                                                                                    1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                      "You CANNOT prove a safe level of consumption, you can only come close to proving an unsafe level of consumption through statistics, but you can prove levels that are fatal."

                                                                                                      Talk about closing the barn door after the horse is gone! :-)

                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                        What is your current level of arsenic intake?

                                                                                                    2. re: mcf

                                                                                                      You don't seem to be distinguishing between hysteria and caution.
                                                                                                      Fact: the FDA started monitoring the arsenic levels in rice over 20 years ago. Fact: The levels have remained steady in that time. Fact: We have been eating that rice for over 20 years. Fact: No one has reported any deaths or illnesses due to eating arsenic contaminated rice. Fact: Arsenic doesn't accumulate in our systems like some other things.

                                                                                                      Even tho arsenic was discovered in rice and monitoring began about 20 years ago, it's a good bet the arsenic has been there a lot longer. It didn't just suddenly show up one day. If it was a problem for humans it would have shown up by now.

                                                                                                      This case is hysteria.

                                                                                                      1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                        Actually, arsenic does accumulate in the skin, and lon-term exposure has been linked to several cancers:


                                                                                                        People are justified in being concerned about this problem, and in understanding how to minimize their risk. Concern for one's health is not hysteria.

                                                                                                        1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                          The cumulative effects of low level chronic exposures don't lead to reporting deaths caused by the toxin, but by the conditions they lead to, so not identified. Non sequitir.

                                                                                                          This issue this study raised was not a surprised at the presence of arsenic, but the excessive and surprisingly high levels in some samples. Taking steps to reduce exposure isn't hysterical, and not doing so when excessive amounts are present is stupid.

                                                                                                          1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                            It is really hard to do the kind of studies that would be needed to evaluate the effects of low levels of a toxin over a long period of time. If you study a large group of people, how can you exclude all other possible causes so you can compare one group exposed to the substance and another group without?

                                                                                                            This means the level of risk is not really knowable for lots of things.

                                                                                                            So, that means how you feel about a given substance depends on your own outlook on risk. How much risk do you want to assume? People differ.

                                                                                                            1. re: karykat

                                                                                                              Exactly. Much of life is about balancing risks and rewards.

                                                                                            2. re: karykat

                                                                                              Is the question ultimately about individuals assuming risks or whether we as a society permit corporate money interests to do nothing to prevent risks?

                                                                                              I assume risks all the time - bodysurfing in hurricane swells, standing on a ladder while chainsawing branches in a tree, etc. But, I think that if there is a way to help the meeker and weaker in our society from being put in harm's way, that burden should fall on those with the simplest way of dealing with it. Even if that means reducing shareholder profit.

                                                                                            3. I'm doing nothing differently. As huiray indicated, an average American gets more arsenic from consuming fruits (18% of the total amount) and vegetables (24%) than rice (17%). If one really wants to reduce the amount of arsenic consumed, then one should eliminate vegetables and fruits first.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                The arsenic content of rice is about the same as for fruits and fruit juices, and not that far behind vegetables. So it is one of three important sources of arsenic.

                                                                                                The thread is about arsenic content in rice, so the discussion is about whether to be concerned about rice and what to do about it. Presumably someone who is concerned about arsenic in rice would also be concerned about finding it other sources, but without more information, it is is difficult to know what to do about it. For example, which vegetables from which growing regions?

                                                                                                Eliminating rice is not the only option for someone who wishes to reduce arsenic consumption from rice, because different growing regions have different arsenic content.

                                                                                              2. Switch to bulgur instead of brown rice: brown rice isn't very much better for you than white, and bulgur is about the easiest grain to cook and way healthier if you don't have gluten problems.

                                                                                                29 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                  But wheat is much worse for you than pretty much any other grain, including rice. Ask anyone with diabetes, asthma or GERD or IBS who's stopped eating it or tested the post meal results.

                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                    I don't do Demon Food of the Moment stuff, nor do most folks. Cum grano salis.

                                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                      Neither do I. But I do read tons of nutrition/metabolic endocrine and other biomedical esearch on the topic, though. Have for years. Just good science vs. conjecture and opinions based on lack of good information or any critical thinking. I don't care what you eat, only that we separate facts from ficts. There is no inherent nutriitonal benefit from wheat, and certainly not bulgar. If you eat it because you like it and choose to, that's your business, but it's not a health promoting food. I suppose if nothing nutritious is available, wheat and rice are better than nothing.

                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                        Please explain how wheat has no nutritional value at all, for those of us who aren't gluten-intolerant.....

                                                                                                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                          mcf is our resident low-carb expert. I'm not sure if she has gone full paleo or not.

                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                            Sorry to hear that, but I'd still like to know what she bases her assumptions on....

                                                                                                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                              Years and years of study in the biomedical literature, not a single "assumption" in my statements.

                                                                                                            2. re: paulj

                                                                                                              No, not paleo, never will be. I'm not a fad dieter, I've based all my decisions on metabolic/nutrition research not popular authors' writings.

                                                                                                            3. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                              There is nothing good in wheat that cannot be found attached to far more nutrient value elsewhere and without the deleterious health effects of wheat.

                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                Still haven't answered my question as to how wheat has NO nutritional value, and I'll ask another one, what are the more nutritious choices of which you speak?? Examples would make your point better than hyperbole.

                                                                                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                                  Hyperbole is the point of demon food talk.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                    An example of hyperbole would be calling wheat a healthy choice. If you want to eat a lot of it, that's your business and no one else's. But if you want to make unstubstantiated claims about the metabolic value of a food, that's fair game.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                                    Per calorie, wheat has very little nutrient density, and delivers a load of very high glucose production post meal. Carbohydrates in the form of nutrient dense, high fiber, low calories veggies, for instance, have the opposite characteristics. There is nothing in wheat that you cannot get much more of for a much lower calorie/glucose buck.

                                                                                                                    Higher glucose levels = increased diseases normally associated with aging, now happening in pediatric populations since the implementation of the grain based pyramid.

                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                      Still dodging a straight forward question regarding your remark "wheat has no nutritional value" ,much said but no answer.

                                                                                                                      This post,a response,without an answer to a question asking you for examples of more nutritious choices.

                                                                                                                      1. re: lcool

                                                                                                                        I did not dodge, if you don't like the answer, so be it.

                                                                                                                      2. re: mcf

                                                                                                                        Can't remember the grain based pyramid - but there are many changes that have occurred in the (western) diet during that same timeframe - so identifying it as all the fault of grain itself is a little problematic. We eat much more processed food containing additives that we did not have before - HF corn syrup is one, trans-fat from hydrogenated vegetable oil, big gulp sugar based drinks to name a few. In fact not many people actually follow the pyramid - i.e. more common they over-eat the recommended levels even in that pyramid. One serving of "starch" consists of one slice of bread..... how many people eat one slice of bread? In fact even one subway sub consists of much more bread than recommended, and if you go to a burger joint you buy a burger - then french fries on top of it..... you already had enough starch with the bun. I have to admit I rarely eat wheat - but I do eat rice.... but like everything it is not by itself. Rice meals here consist of maybe a cup of cooked rice but served with vegetables and protein - together they can be quite filling. Even your simplest meal might consist of rice "sai khai daow" (with egg) or for Chinese maybe with Tofu (one of my friends use to order what was mainly rice and tofu). Rice by itself may not be the most nutritious but as part of a balanced meal - it is fine. Often you don't generally eat by yourself so you would order a balanced set of dishes with rice or noodles - some would be vegetables, some seafood, some pork..... I do find that of all the "starches" wheat based products are the easiest to over-eat if not thinking about it. Personally I think the high-fructose corn syrup is much more of a problem than wheat though.

                                                                                                                        1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                          You can''t remember it? It's still the standard in the U.S. We differ about the merits of grains and starches. Processing is worse in some cases, better in others (converted rice) but grains and fruts are concentrated sources of sugar, the most damaging metabolic outcome of any meal, and a big percentage in too many people's diets. Rice is not part of a balanced meal, unless you don't mind favoring bulk filler over nutrients.

                                                                                                                            1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                              I apologize if it doesn't appear where you are, but the recommendations seem to be used by WHO and the EDA, for examples.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                No apology necessary.... I am from the Un-United State of America :o (more commonly called Canada) but reside in Thailand (although I did live in Chicago for 6 months, Denver 2 months, San Diego 11 months). I cannot remember what it was called when I was growing up, but our Food Guide was not a pyramid. From searching online I know that it is currently a Rainbow. I know that Japan tends to be much more disciplined in there schooling with regards to nutrition.... it is fairly complicated - but basically it comes down to variety - must eat 30 different things per day, not same every day (i.e. chicken in this meal, then not chicken tomorrow or something like that).... but one constant.... rice (sticky variety). By the time a girl becomes an adult it is automatic where even if they don't remember the details there is an almost automatic ability to pull together all the components of a meal into a balanced - and properly calorie sized meal. I believe after the age of 30 they tend to switch to "old peoples food" which means cooking more with steam. There are some constants in the Japanese diet though in comparison to American diets - more fish (and the starch is most commonly rice). In addition Americans tend to be more sedentary (commonly referred to these days as sitting disease), and because of the way many American cities are "designed" have to rely on the car to get everywhere. Unfortunately even with concerted effort - it will take decades of city planning to fix the city design problem. Although I like large box stores as much as many, they have been a disaster for the daily routine (no local markets within walking distance - which discourages even the simplest of exercise.... walking. Japanese (especially those in Okinawa) that have much higher seafood based diets tend to be healthier - and longer lived - which is a good indication it might be a good template to follow.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                  So here's the thing; research has demonstrated that increased activity doesn't bring about the necessary improvement in weight/health, diet change does and quickly, though. The U.S. food authorities recommend restriction of fat and protein, the only two essential macronutrients for human health, and a diet of 55% of calories from carbs, most of those calories from comparatively nutrient impoverished starches.

                                                                                                                                  Also very unfortunate is the recommendation to eat lots of fruits and veggies as if they were equally valuable. Those non starchy veggies come packed with nutrition density per calorie, with very low glycemic content, but the fruit is loaded with sugars and extra calories for the nutrition they bring to the table and thus should be limited similarly to other concentrated sources of sugars.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                    You said "increased activity doesn't bring about the necessary improvement in weight/health"

                                                                                                                                    (Mayoclinic references) Studies say....

                                                                                                                                    "This study went on to reveal that Americans' sedentary lifestyle shortens their life expectancy. If Americans would cut their sitting time in half, their life expectancy would increase by roughly:

                                                                                                                                    2 years (by reducing sitting to less than 3 hours a day)
                                                                                                                                    1.4 years (by reducing TV time to less than 2 hours a day)
                                                                                                                                    From previous studies we also know that a sedentary lifestyle is associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers (breast and colon)."

                                                                                                                                    BZZZ. Your wrong :o

                                                                                                                                    Eating fruits is not as bad as you make it out to be.... problem is that people assume that means juice of fruit is the same...... Eating a couple oranges good, drinking them..... not so good since you will be overdoing it (way too much sugar). i.e. everything in moderation and when juiced you lose some of the good stuff and tend to consume too much sugar/calories. I could easily drink 1,000+ [calories] in juice - but fruits.... not so easy.

                                                                                                                                    Yes fruit and vegetables are not the same, but I don't see a major problem caused by EATING fruits. Again.... everything in moderation. You seem to be recommending that people only eat vegetables - which is not balanced. In fact (IMHO) I find researchers often focus on "is ? bad for you" where as in the east they are more likely to approach it like.... If you make something with coconut milk (which is high in coconut oils) which is likely to increase bad cholesterol then you should add vegetables which are beneficial in relation to cholesterol.... basically trying to understand the medicinal properties of all the foods you eat together.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                      Yeah, I'm pretty sure that any issues I have with my health are not from overindulging in whole,fresh fruit...


                                                                                                                                      1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                        We seem to be working from different sources of information. Moderation isn't a scientific term nor concept.

                                                                                                                  3. re: mcf

                                                                                                                    Umm...people have been subsisting mainly on wheat or rice in many areas of the world for centuries...and are surviving. There's got to be SOMETHING good about them.

                                                                                                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                      Indeed. But then you get the "but we eat a different wheat" sermon. It's really hopeless dealing that kind of food ideology. I've lost much weight in my time eating perfectly normal amounts of products made with modern wheat, and have family members with IBS and colitis and GERD and other digestive tract issues for whom wheat is most definitely NOT the problem. But that won't convince the magical thinking about food segment. Wheat is not a general purpose food demon: there are some people who should avoid it (just as, in east Asia, rice allergies are much more common than they are here - though the wheat demon folks who champion rice are largely unaware of rice allergy prevelances....)

                                                                                                                      1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                        Only if nothing nutritious is available. Those in China with little but rice to eat have malnutrition related illnesses, if you do your homework, when fish and meat are not readily available to them.

                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                    Just be sure to compare the right columns: bulgur has an additional column for tbs.

                                                                                                                2. Folks, this thread is getting pretty far afield. We're going to lock it now.