HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


What are you doing about arsenic in rice?

  • h

Have you changed your method of preparing the rice or limited your consumption or changed the type of rice you are buying or eating?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Eating more barley...it s a remarkably good sub for short grained rice.

    1 Reply
      1. Haven't changed a thing. And don't think I'll grow another head or die earlier than intended. Go figure.

        1. I somehow missed the memo until quite recently. It seems to me that considering all the many, many years I've been eating rice, doing something about it at this stage of the game is probably not going to extend my lifespan. I just bought a big bag of sushi rice from the Korean store, which needs to be washed quite thoroughly to play nicely in my rice cooker. That change has nothing to do with arsenic. I just wanted some good, delicious short-grain rice!

          1. I've mostly stopped eating brown rice. I used to eat it primarily for the health benefits, but I decided that the increased fiber and b vitamins were not worth the higher arsenic levels. Plus I no longer have to listen to my spouse complain! (he prefers white rice). Other than that, no change.

            1. There have been some previous threads on this subject. I don't worry about it because the concern pertains mainly to rice from the Southeastern US, which I don't use.

              1. seriously? Not even on my radar. Like most things in my life I enjoy a wide variety of foods. If rice was the mainstay of diet maybe I would do more research. Maybe not.

                1. What?!
                  I eat the Brown rice from Costco that you microwave for 90 seconds..
                  Eat 2-3 bowls a week..
                  Doesn't it show up in your nails..yikes!

                  1. I rarely eat rice but I make it for the man so now I check the origin and avoid rice from the SE US.

                        1. One would have to eat an entire rice field, daily, to feel any effect.

                          2 Replies
                          1. No.

                            The original Consumers Report article assumed you eat rice every day, which we don't. Rinsing and then boiling in six parts water to one part rice removes 33% of the arsenic.


                            The FDA has recommended NO changes in rice consumption as a result of these studies.

                            You have to read the reports carefully. "People who ate rice had arsenic levels that were 44 percent greater than those who had not, according to our analysis of federal health data. And certain ethnic groups were more highly affected, including Mexicans, other Hispanics, and a broad category that includes Asians." OK, so two things to note. First, two ethnic groups for whom rice is a daily staple. Second, the higher arsenic levels are not necessarily attributable, or entirely attributable to the rice. The arsenic is in the ground, as is the groundwater supply. It is also possible that a great deal of the arsenic is consumed in drinking water. There is no federal limit for arsenic in drinking water (believe it or not!).

                            18 Replies
                            1. re: Just Visiting

                              "Arsenic in Drinking Water"


                              from the Environmental Protection Agency

                              1. re: GH1618

                                I stand corrected. Thank you! I don't know why I thought that, but uncharacteristic of me to forego fact-checking before making the statement. I really dislike spreading false info, so my apologies to all.

                                1. re: Just Visiting

                                  The regulation is fairly recent, so it's an easy mistake to make.

                              2. re: Just Visiting

                                I hate it when they quote stats like "44 percent greater than those who had not." First, 44 percent greater isn't that much if you think about it. It's the difference between 1.00 and 1.44. Second, it doesn't tell you how that relates to the actual risk and what the risk is for various levels. Arsenic is acutely toxic at high levels; it's carcinogenic at lower levels. But how does the level they're talking about relate to those levels? You know, when you buy two lottery tickets your chance of winning the lottery is 100 percent greater (a bigger difference that "44 percent greater"), but you're simply changing it from 1 in 17 million (or whatever) to 2 in 17 million. Knowing the percentage increase is meaningless without any context!

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  So you think that someone (Consumer Reports, here) shouldn't try to quantify the results? Their figure suggests that rice can be a significant contributor to arsenic intake when it is an important part of one's diet. Arsenic is a known poison, and the FDA knows that rice takes up arsenic from the soil to a greater degree than most plants. That is why they have been studying the arsenic levels in various kinds of rice for many years, and reporting the quantities? Are you really suggesting that the FDA should not be tracking and reporting arsenic levels in rice (or anything else) just because there is not yet a definitive answer on the amount that is acceptable in our food supply? How could you ever determine what level of a poison could be tolerated if it were not studied and quantified?

                                  The context is our food supply and the importance of rice in it as a source or arsenic intake. I don't know what other kind of "context" you want.

                                  1. re: GH1618

                                    Did you read what I wrote? The context is whether a 44 percent greater level is a meaningful change in risk. If the lowest observable effect level is, for example, 200 micrograms/ml and the baseline level is 10 micrograms and "44 percent greater" is 14.4 micrograms the difference is meaningless in terms of changes in risk. Yes, it's 44 percent higher. But is that worth worrying about? The percentage alone doesn't tell us anything.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      I don't think you know the meaning of "context." In any case, I am glad we have the FDA monitoring poisons in our food supply. There is no question that arsenic is a poison, and it is the job of the FDA to monitor it. A 44% increase in arsenic intake due to rice consumption is certainly significant. Whether it is dangerous is another matter, but the only way that a dangerous level could ever be determined is by scientific study.

                                      Perhaps you think we do not need the FDA. Should we just ignore the possibility of poisons in our food supply until they reach the level that people start dropping dead from them? If not, what then?

                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        I think you are simply trying to create an argument for no reason, other than just to argue, perhaps. Quit putting words in people's mouths. Ruth never said we do not need the FDA. She didn't say we should ignore the possibility of poisons in our food supply. All she is saying is that there needs to be more study on the issue, a point you agree with. Sheesh.

                                        1. re: carolinadawg

                                          She seems to be minimizing the importance of a significant increase in one's arsenic intake by eating rice grown in contaminated soil, by writing "I hate it when they quote stats like ..." (her words). We definitely don't agree on that. Why shouldn't they report a whopping increase in poison in a common foodstuff? We, the consumers, have a right to know this.

                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            She's just pointing out that more information is needed, and you agreed with that. I don't get your aggressiveness and hostility. It's not necessary, helpful, or nice.

                                            1. re: carolinadawg

                                              GH does not like rice. That's all. :)

                                              (this is a joke in case people don't know).

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                A joke, yes, but I do like rice and eat my share of it. I'm happy to know that the FDA is keeping an eye on it and just don't understand why anyone would "hate" having the results of their work published.

                                            2. re: GH1618

                                              I'm saying I don't know if it's significant or not, since I don't know what the actual harmful/toxic level is, and that particular quote doesn't contain that information. That's why I hate these kinds of statistics: they are meaningless without additional information aka "context." As in my lottery example, an increase can appear to be a large percentage and still be insignificant in terms of the total effect on risk (or in the case of the lottery, benefit). Please, tell me on what basis you believe this increase to be "significant"!

                                            3. re: carolinadawg

                                              I didn't even say there needed to be more study. Only that the statement that there was an increase of 44 percent was meaningless without additional information about what that increased level means in terms of risk; the information about the toxicity of arsenic is readily available without further study. What I hate is numbers taken out of context so that I can't assess their significance and decide whether it's worth making changes in my behavior, which is what this discussion is about. I don't hate that the information was published, I hate that it's inadequate and incomplete.

                                          2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            <If the lowest observable effect level is...>

                                            Based on your language, I can safely assume you won't work for FDA, and based on your other language I can guess you work closely with the medical field in term of preclinical or clinical trials. You are giving up too much information. :)

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              I publish CalEPA, and California Department of Toxic Substance Control and Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment regulations. :-) Actually, I mis-spoke -- it should have been "No observable effect level (NOEL)." At least in California, the permissible level of toxins in drinking water is the NOEL divided by 1,000.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                Oh, so you don't know anything about his general topic. I'll ignore anything you have to say and argue senselessly with you about it. :-)

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  <Actually, I mis-spoke -- it should have been "No observable effect level (NOEL)." >

                                                  Good enough that I know recognize your lingo. Now, I will let you two discuss further without interruption.

                                      2. It seems, based on this FDA report, that the elevated levels of Arsenic in fields that were once used for growing cotton, is limited to a few states, and it is a domestic U.S.A problem only.
                                        Buy only rice produced in Thailand is a simple answer!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                          Really? Have you read any analysis of what trace chemicals may be found in rice from Thailand?

                                        2. Nothing!!! Just bought 10# of Toro Rice last week!!!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Uncle Bob

                                            Ten pounds? What, you buy rice every week??

                                          2. <Have you changed your method of preparing the rice or limited your consumption or changed the type of rice you are buying or eating?>

                                            Nope, not really.

                                            Wasn't it a couple decades ago that we worry about apples causing cancer, and now Dr. Oz also claims that apples have high level of arsenic? Meanwhile, man researches show apples can PREVENT cancers. So....


                                            I guess I just need a bit more evidences.

                                            1. Also FWIW I still eat rice. It is just that it got me to trying other grains and I really enjoy barley, faro, and bulgur as a change of pace. I figure everything we eat is full of stuff that some study says is horrible for us. Oh well.

                                              1. Nothing

                                                Nor do I plan to.

                                                1. Nothing at all.
                                                  Twenty five pounds every two weeks or so and not worried.

                                                  1. Switched to Asian rice.