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Arsenic Levels In Missouri And Arkansas Rice Are Safe To Eat

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Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a report which stated levels of inorganic arsenic in rice are low enough to be safe for consumption.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring toxin found in rice and rice products.

A study at Southeast Missouri State University found Missouri and Arkansas rice has similarly safe arsenic levels, according to Southeast’s Agriculture Department chair Dr. Michael Aide.

Aide says according to the FDA, there is approximately 0.2 parts per million arsenic residing in rice coming out of the field. He said the results depict levels that should truly be of no concern. 

“These are very small quantities of rice and in that same report, Food and Drug said they see no short term health problems attributable to those levels of arsenic in rice so they consider it a safe product even if you have a diet that eats rice very frequently,” Aide said.

Aide added there should be no short or long term ailments from consuming such low levels of arsenic. The toxin may also be in other foods in equally non-threatening levels.

“These are very small quantities of rice,” Aide said. "Food and Drug said they see no short term health problems attributable to those levels of arsenic in rice so they consider it a safe product even if you have a diet that eats rice very frequently."

Aide said these levels could easily be halved by using different kinds of irrigation methods such as furrow irrigation as opposed to the usual delayed flooding.

There are already programs underway whose goal is to not only lower the levels of arsenic locally, but to create a standard for arsenic levels in rice on a global scale.
 
 
 

Joshua Peters was a student reporter writing for KRCU in 2013.