Study finds levels of arsenic in rice and rice products - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Study finds levels of arsenic in rice and rice products

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Consumer groups are now calling for federal action after investigators reportedly found arsenic in rice and rice products.

The new Consumer Reports study found concerning levels of arsenic in many rice products including rice drinks and infant cereals.  Investigators reported finding higher levels of arsenic in brown rice than white rice because of the way brown rice is processed.

It also found higher levels of arsenic in rice produced in states like Missouri.

The FDA is now doing its own comprehensive study.

Some doctors are saying parents should feed their babies oatmeal and or barley just to be safe.

Arsenic is a carcinogen, because rice is grown in water on the ground, its optimal conditions for the contaminant to be absorbed in the plant.

Agronomist Sam Atwell says this debate is not new.

"It raises its head every now and again," said Atwell.

It's harvest season in southeast Missouri, and Atwell says despite the drought it's a good and safe crop.

"Arsenic is a normal natural compound," said Atwell.

He adds you might find a trace amount in rice.

"We're not adding anything to the crop that's not natural," said Atwell. "It's already here."

The USA Rice Industry released this statement.

"We believe rice is safe, but we are always interested in knowing what we can do to make it safer. We will continue to work with regulators, including FDA, as they examine the issue."

The Food and Drug Administration is in the middle of its own large study. For now, the commissioner says people should not stop eating rice.

"There is no need based on available data and the scientific literature to change dietary consumption of rice overall," said Dr. Margaret Hamburg with the FDA.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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