Arsenic in Rice –New Recommendations

Over the last two years, there has been increased concern about arsenic in rice.  This has been addressed by consumer reports, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and is being looked into by the FDA.

Due to the concerns about arsenic in rice, the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) committee on nutrition has published a consensus statement (JPGN 2015; 60: 142-145).  Pediatric gastroenterologists and pediatricians need to familiarize themselves with the report and their recommendations.

Key points:

  • Inorganic arsenic is a carcinogen.
  • “Arsenic content in raw rice varies from 0.1 to 0.4 mg of inorganic arsenic/kg of dry mass.  Rice has a much higher arsenic level than that in other grains.”
  • “Brown rice contains higher concentrations of arsenic.”
  • There is increased inorganic arsenic in products made from rice bran such as rice drinks is much higher due to the concentration of arsenic in the bran layers.
  • “Traditionally in European adults, an average of 9g of rice is consumed daily compared with 300g/day in Asian diets.”
  • “In the US population, mean childhood (1-6 years of age) dietary intake of inorganic arsenic is 3.2 mcg per day”
  • Currently, in the UK, the Food Standards Agency recommends against substitution of breastmilk, formula, or cow’s milk formula by rice drinks up to 4.5 years of age;  in contrast, in Sweden, recommendations advise no rice-based drinks for children <6 years.

Committee Conclusions/Recommendations:

  • “Inorganic arsenic intake during childhood is likely to affect long-term health”
  • “There is a lack of published data on the amount of arsenic in rice protein-based infant formula”
  • Inorganic arsenic in childhood should be as low as possible and the content in dietary products needs to be regulated
  • Rice drinks should not be used in infants and young children
  • Inorganic arsenic exposure can be reduced by including a variety of grains such as oat, barley, wheat, and maize.
  • Rice protein-based infant formulas remain an option in those with cow’s milk protein allergy,,.”the potential risks should be considered”

This is a link to the full length article (available via JPGNonline twitter feed): JGPN “Arsenic in Rice: A Cause for Concern”

This topic has been addressed by Nutrition4Kids website as well. Nutrition4Kids FDA Studying Arsenic

Bottomline: If there is an impact of arsenic in rice on long-term health, it is unclear; the amounts of these exposures are tiny in most cases.  Yet, given the availability of alternatives to rice and rice-based drinks, some changes in practice (ie. adhering to these guidelines) may be worthwhile.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s