A Consumer Reports article about arsenic in rice is "incomplete and inaccurate on many levels," the USA Rice Federation said today.
In its November issue, Consumer Reports says it found inorganic arsenic in tests of more than 60 rice and rice products. Consumer Reports is urging the Food and Drug Administration to set limits for arsenic rice and rice products.
"The goal of our report is to inform—not alarm—consumers—about the importance of reducing arsenic exposure and offer actions they can take moving forward, such as limiting their rice consumption," says Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., director of safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports. "Given what we know about arsenic's increasing role in contributing to multiple cancers and other serious health effects, the government needs to regulate arsenic in food."
The USA Rice Federation, however, says the article in Consumer Reports "employs an 'arsenic content standard' that doesn't exist in federal law. It cites federal health data to allege health risk from arsenic ingestion when that data is based on arsenic excreted from, rather than absorbed by, the body. It offers consumption advice without addressing all of the relevant public health issues that must be taken into account."
The USA Rice Federation points out that the FDA is not recommending consumers change their diet based on this article. "We agree with the FDA that any limits set for arsenic in rice products should be the result of a carefully conducted risk-assessment—based on an adequate sample of well-constructed tests—that balances any yet-to-be-validated 'risks' against years of sound research into rice's many nutritional benefits.
"We understand that 'arsenic' is an alarming word, but we believe it is important for consumers to know that arsenic is a naturally occurring element in our air, water, rocks and soil," the USA Rice Federation said in a statement. "This is how plants uptake arsenic. As a result, it's always been in the food supply and is in many healthy foods that are consumed by billions of people every day. No arsenical pesticides are used when growing U.S. rice."
The group represents U.S. rice growers and all segments of the U.S. rice industry.
More information on the subject can be found at www.arsenicfacts.usarice.com