We appreciate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s release of their scientific assessment scientific assessment for arsenic in rice for arsenic in rice. Its thorough analysis indicates that US-grown rice fits well as part of a balanced diet for the general population.
The FDA also issued draft guidance to limit the levels of inorganic arsenic in rice used in infant cereal at 100 parts per billion (ppb) to address potential developmental concerns associated with consumption of inorganic arsenic at levels found in rice products they have tested. They also advised pregnant women to eat a variety of grains and for infants to be given a variety of fortified infant cereals. The average levels in our rice over the past five years of testing fall below the draft guidance for infant rice cereal. As the mission of the FDA is to protect the public health by assuring the safety of our nation’s food supply, we encourage consumers to review the FDA’s guidance and act accordingly.
Codex, the international agency tasked with providing guidance for foods in international trade, issued its guideline for levels of arsenic in white rice last year, and our brown rice products continue to test at less than half those levels. The European Food Safety Authority’s standards for levels of inorganic arsenic in rice products became effective in January 2016, and our average level of inorganic arsenic over the past five years falls below all of those standards, including the most stringent baby cereal level of 100 ppb.
Over the past five years, Lundberg Family Farms has been actively engaged with farmers, academic and regulatory communities, as well as our colleagues in the food industry, to better understand arsenic in food. At Lundberg Family Farms, we take pride in our food safety and we continue to work to bring you relevant information, as well as to evaluate ways to mitigate the presence of this naturally occurring element in rice.
We support consumers’ right to know about the food they are eating, and remain committed to transparency on all issues. We have published arsenic-testing results for our crop for the past five years. We provide a link to information on arsenic that includes peer-reviewed research studies, as well as straight-forward answers to questions about arsenic in general and Lundberg-specific products.
Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and concerns with us. We value your feedback as it helps us to focus on the things that matter to you. If you have suggestions for other information you might find useful, we’d love to hear from you. Please email us at email@example.com, or call (888) 215-2958. We look forward to hearing from you.
C.E.O., Lundberg Family Farms
There is growing consensus regarding the levels of inorganic arsenic in rice, and the potential impacts on human health. We continue to update our Resource Library to provide more in depth information for our consumers who are interested in learning more. In addition, we have summarized much of the scientific information below to provide an overview for consumers, and included references to the studies for your convenience.
Despite being one of the oldest known toxins, the scientific community still has not uncovered the specific mode of action of arsenic. At present, research suggests that arsenic at low levels found in rice is not a direct acting agent, but rather a co-respondent1. This means that other factors such as genetic predisposition, absence of vital nutrients such as selenium or folate, or co-existing contaminants such as smoking, must also be present for health risks to occur2.
Effective January 2016, The European Safe Food Authority (EFSA) implemented standards for the Maximum Level (ML)of inorganic arsenic in rice products sold in the European Union. These standards are 250 parts per billion (ppb) in brown rice (husked rice) or parboiled rice, 200 ppb in white rice (polished rice), 300 ppb in rice crackers and rice cakes, and 100 ppb in rice destined for the production of food for infants and young children3.
In July of 2014, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) adopted a standard ML of 200 ppb for white rice (polished rice)4. Codex is scheduled to consider a standard for brown rice at its meeting in April 2016.
On April 1, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its scientific assessment of arsenic in rice. In this assessment, the FDA set a guidance level of 100 ppb for infant rice cereal, which is consistent with the EFSA standard that went into effect in January 2016. The FDA also advised pregnant women to eat a variety of grains and for infants to be given a variety of fortified infant cereals. It also continued its advice to the general population that rice should be eaten as part of a balanced diet with varied grains.5
Naturally occurring levels of arsenic in US soils range from 1.1 mg/kg to 97 mg/kg, averaging 7.2 mg/kg. There is good evidence that these levels have not measurably changed over the past 50 years that they have been measured.6
The FDA suggests the best way for consumers to reduce the presence of inorganic arsenic in rice is to cook rice with a high volume of water and drain the excess water7. This method can reduce from 40 to 60 percent of the inorganic arsenic content, depending on the type of rice. While reducing the arsenic content, this method can also reduce the nutritional value of rice. Brown rice has the least nutrient loss using this method.
Another method that has been widely discussed to reduce the presence of inorganic arsenic in rice is to rinse before cooking. However, the FDA’s research shows that this method has minimal impact on inorganic arsenic in the cooked grain, but substantially reduces some of the key nutrients from the rice, particularly in white and parboiled rice.8
We are committed to providing great-tasting and healthy rice and rice products to our consumers, and will continue our efforts to understand and address this topic. We will continue to share our findings with you as we move forward, and provide information from the scientific community to assist you in making informed decisions about your food choices.
1 Guidance for and Review of EPA’s iris Toxicological assessment of inorganic arsenic, National Academy of Sciences Proceedings, April 2013
2 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (2007) Toxicological profile for arsenic (update). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Atlanta, GA; European Food Safe Authority (EFSA) (2009). Scientific opinion on arsenic in food, EFSA Journal 7(10):1351.
3 Commission Regulation (EU) 2015-1006, amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 as regards maximum levels of inorganic arsenic in foodstuffs; http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32015R1006&from=EN
4 Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, Codex Alimentarius Commission, Report of the Ninth Session of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods, New Delhi, India, 16-20 March 2015. ftp://ftp.fao.org/codex/meetings/CCCF/CCCF8/cf08_INF1e.pdf
6 Chang, Andrew, et al., “Role of Fertilizer and Micronutrient applications on Arsenic, Cadmium and Lead Accumulation in California Cropland Soils, California Department of Food and Agriculture, 2004.