Yes, we have been testing for arsenic in our rice for the past five years. The average level of inorganic arsenic in our rice over this time is 93 parts per billion (ppb), or 4.2 micrograms per serving. Our 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 crop testing results only included brown rice. This level is less than half the standard for brown rice established by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), less than half the standard for white rice established by EFSA and Codex, and slightly below the draft guidance issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for infant cereal.
To date, Lundberg has collected and tested over 400 samples of our varieties across five consecutive crop years for inorganic arsenic. For the most recent year that we have data on, the average micrograms per serving is 4.3, and the five year average is 4.2. This compares to an average of 7.2 micrograms per servings of all brown rice reviewed by FDA1.
In any given season, we grow 17-20 varieties of rice, which become many different products when considering white and brown rice applications, Organic and Eco-Farmed, as well as blends. The amount of data necessary to accurately predict a particular packaged item would become unwieldy. Therefore, we have grouped our varieties into commonly divided categories based on size, shape and eating characteristics.
We categorize our rice varieties according to the three main types used in the industry: long, medium and short. Additionally, we have a separate aromatic category due to their tendency to have lower concentrations of inorganic arsenic. Finally, due to its popularity and health benefits, we group colored varieties into a separate category. Below is a description of the five categories:
Our historical testing of rice cakes shows that the inorganic arsenic levels in our Unsalted and Lightly Salted Rice Cakes reflect our rice cake recipe and the levels tested in our paddy rice. In the months ahead, we will begin to report calculated levels for our top-selling rice cake products. The specific levels of the most recent testing were about 110 parts per billion. This compares favorably with the standard for rice cakes established by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) of 300 part per billion2.
In order to provide our consumers with information directly associated with the products they love, we will begin reporting estimated annual inorganic arsenic levels for our top selling rice products by the end of 2016. This will include your favorite products, such as Lundberg Family Farms Organic Brown Short Grain Rice, Lundberg Family Farms Organic California White Basmati and our newest line of Sprouted Rice Products.
Lundberg has conducted some preliminary tests for inorganic arsenic in quinoa, both in our products and in the imported quinoa sold by other brands. These preliminary results show that inorganic arsenic was not detected in the quinoa samples, as the inorganic arsenic levels may be very low and below the level of detection with current testing methodology.
Our testing results, research, and consultation with other food producers indicate that the brown rice syrup manufacturing process does not concentrate the level of inorganic arsenic. It appears that the level in the syrup is at the same level as the rice that was used to make the syrup.
Lundberg has supplied rice for other companies that make infant cereal in the past. During the most recent few years, as our supplies of rice have been restricted due to drought in California, we have not been providing rice as an ingredient in infant cereal to other companies. As our supplies of rice become more abundant, we may consider supplying rice in the future for other companies, and would comply with the levels recommended by the FDA for rice sold for the purpose of making infant cereal.
There have been no recommendations from professional health organizations nor from the FDA for general testing of arsenic in the public at large. Your health is a personal matter between you and your physician, and if you have concerns, you should consult your physician. If your drinking water comes from a private well, it would be prudent to have the well water tested on a regular basis. Arsenic concentrations vary across the country, and are particularly high in some regions.
Based on five consecutive years of testing our products, the average concentration of inorganic arsenic in our brown rice (93 ppb) is less than half of the standard established by EFSA for brown rice (250 ppb), less than half of the standard established by EFSA and Codex for white rice (200 ppb), less than the standard established by FDA for infant cereal (100 ppb) and less than the standard established by EFSA for rice destined for the production of food for infants and young children (100 ppb).
Additionally, the health benefits of rice have been studied extensively over the years. These studies consistently point to multiple benefits, including lowering the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type two diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Visit the Whole Grains Council website for more on the benefits of brown rice.
Lundberg Family Farms is proud of our strong grower network that supplements the rice we grow ourselves. We regularly review our carefully selected growers, handlers and processors to ensure that food safety regulations and agricultural standards are consistently met. The vast majority of rice used in our products comes from California. All of the rice in our 1 pound, 2 pound, 4 pound and 12 pound bags comes from California. Our wild rice is sourced from California, Minnesota and Canada. We also source rice from our growers and processors in the Southern United States. We do this when we have challenging growing conditions that reduce yields in the field, when our planting is limited by environmental conditions, such as the California drought, or when demand grows substantially faster than we anticipate. When rice is sourced from the Southern United States, it typically is in 25 pound bags, and labeled as “American”, rather than “California”, such as “American Long Grain”, rather than “California Long Grain”.
The FDA data released in 2012 and 2013 is not brand-specific, nor is the Consumer Reports 2014 article. We cannot speculate on what others find, but do report on the results of our own testing, as shown in our five years of data posted on our website.
Yes, chicken litter is one of the sources of fertility used in the production of organic rice. The Organic Systems Plan of each of our family of growers addresses how they will manage the production of their crop with many interrelated and complementary factors. The litter used to grow our rice complies with standards established through the National Organic Program and Organic Materials Review Institute. Each of the suppliers of chicken litter guarantees us or our growers that they do not use arsenicals in their poultry production systems, nor do they add any inputs after the litter has left the chicken houses.
No, cotton has not been grown on our fields. We also have not seen data that corroborates the suggestion that rice in the United States is widely grown on the same soils as is cotton.
Last Updated: 4/11/16