On Friday, the FDA said that the amount of arsenic in rice products is safe for people to eat. They have found no evidence that shows that the amounts of arsenic that are currently found in rice have any sort of immediate health risk to consumers.
Over 1,300 types of rice products and rice were tested, such as rice cereals, and rice cakes, and in all of them, the levels of arsenic ranged from three to seven micrograms per serving. The agency has said that these amounts were not bad for the health of humans during the short term.
Keeve Nachman, scientist with the Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University, has said that most rice has much more arsenic than apple juice, but there are so many different products that are made with rice, and it is found at many different levels, so determining what is harmful in rice products tends to be much more complicated.
When consumed in large quantities, arsenic is a carcinogen. It is found naturally, but industrial contamination can also cause it. It wasn’t brought to the public’s attention until 2011, when physician and television personality, Dr. Oz, said that the levels of it found in apple juice were too high.
The FDA proposed new limits for levels that are acceptable in apple juice in July, but it said that, in a broad study of many different samples, they found that the apple juice was perfectly safe.
The measurement used is microgram, which is one-millionth of a gram, and a spokeswoman for the FDA has said that the levels that were discovered in rice product and rice samples were too low to cause short term health effects.
While experts have said that this is an excellent first step, it is still too hard to tell if the levels found would cause any sort of long term health effects without having a better understanding of an individual’s rice consumption over a lifetime.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for a way to balance the potential health effects of arsenic for the long term, avoid consuming rice products or rice every day. It’s likely that exposure over time has less of an effect when rice products are consumed as part of a healthy diet, and eaten in moderation.