When you’re boiling up a batch of rice for dinner, you probably don’t assume you were filling your body with carcinogens. But according to a new alert from Consumer Reports that found elevated levels of arsenic in rice, you may very well be. That’s right…your San Francisco treat could be giving you cancer.
In a new study, Consumer Reports tested over 200 samples of the most popular brands of rice, including Uncle Ben’s, Goya, Kellogg’s, Earth’s Best Organic, and Gerber. What they found was troubling: All brands of rice had elevated levels of arsenic.
Lead scientist Urshavi Rangan explained that this is something we should take seriously:
We actually are quite concerned by the findings. This isn’t a matter of trace amounts. These are moderate to moderately high levels of arsenic.
And because Gerber was one of the brands tested–and found with high levels of arsenic–Rangen went on to say that this is especially concerning for children:
We think children should consume even less because they are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of arsenic.
While this is not the first time that we have felt threatened by arsenic in our food (remember prior studies that found this chemical in apple juice and baby food?), findings like this are still very troubling. It makes us wonder if we really know what we’re eating half the time. True, arsenic is found in the soil and foods like rice absorb this substance more easily. But even though it’s found “naturally”, it still doesn’t make it any less scary.
Over time, high levels of this chemical can cause cancer says Keeve Nachman, food safety scientist at Johns Hopkins:
This is a known carcinogen linked to several types of cancer, including lung cancer, skin cancer and bladder cancer.
Of course the USA Rice Foundation doesn’t see any concern and think we should continue eating rice regularly. Rangen disagrees though:
I think we can agree that rice is a healthy, nutritional source of food, and a lot of people eat it and rely on it. I think where we would disagree is that the arsenic levels don’t matter.
So how do we avoid poisoning ourselves with rice? Until we get more information, cutting back and eating rice in moderation–especially for kids–seems to be the answer.
Do studies like this affect what you eat?