Yes, we are testing for arsenic in our products. The average level of inorganic arsenic in our rice in the 2012 crop year was 73 ppb, or 3.3 micrograms per serving, down from 95 ppb or 4.3 micrograms per serving in the 2011 crop year. We attribute this to normal year-to-year variations, as the climatic conditions and farming practices were very similar between these two years. For more detailed results, please see our Arsenic Testing Plan
We have established a 3-year Arsenic Testing Plan to help bring understanding to the issue of arsenic in rice. We say understand because we intend to not only determine the levels of arsenic in our rice, but also determine what they mean.
Our plan has three objectives:
Will this plan really take three years? Yes. We are motivated to invest time in this project to provide you with meaningful data. In order to do so, we must collect and analyze a sizable number of samples across our product lines and from multiple crop years. Otherwise, there would be no way to ensure the reliability of our data. And when it comes to understanding our products, we want to be sure. At Lundberg Family Farms, your health and safety is our primary concern. We are committed to enabling you and your family to make healthy and informed decisions about your food; this commitment is the driving force behind our Arsenic Testing Plan.
To date, Lundberg Family Farms has collected and tested over 180 samples of our varieties across two consecutive crop years for inorganic arsenic. Below is a table that summarizes our results for the 2011 and 2012 crop years.
Overall, levels from the 2012 crop year are trending lower than the 2011 crop year. The 2012 crop averages 73 ppb of inorganic arsenic, compared to 95 ppb for the 2011 crop. Per serving, this equates to 3.3 mcg versus 4.3 mcg. Comparing specific types, we are seeing 27-54% reductions in 2012 compared to 2011.
Levels of inorganic arsenic in rice are known to vary depending on factors such as variety types, harvest year, soil type and milling level (brown or white), which is demonstrated by the crop year and varietal ranges shown below. Our results continue to fall within the ranges found by both Consumer Reports and FDA.
Our Arsenic Testing Plan, which spans 3 consecutive crop years, outlines our commitment to obtaining meaningful data to help bring understanding to the issue of arsenic in rice. We are committed to sharing accurate and meaningful information with our consumers and therefore will continue to summarize and communicate our results.
At Lundberg, we grow 20 varieties of rice, which become a variety of different products when considering white and brown varieties, and Organic and Eco-Farmed. The amount of data necessary to accurately predict a particular packaged item would become unwieldy. These varieties are commonly divided into categories based on size, shape and eating characteristics.
The incorporation of the 2012 crop year data has increased our ability to understand the differences between varieties and variety categories and represent this information in more meaningful ways for our consumers, with sufficient sample size to yield meaningful data.
We have chosen the following most commonly understood varietal categories to represent our data:
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 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.
There have been no recommendations from professional health organizations for general testing of arsenic in the public. However, your health is a personal matter between you and your physician, and if you have concerns, you should consult your physician.
Our 2011 and 2012 crop year results are consistent with the FDA’s analytical results on arsenic levels in rice and rice products, posted on September 6, 2013.
Based on current research, FDA states that ‘Rice is an important staple for many people, and the arsenic levels that FDA found in the samples it evaluated were too low to cause any immediate or short-term adverse health effects. All consumers, including pregnant women, infants and children, are encouraged to eat a well-balanced diet for good nutrition and to minimize potential adverse consequences from consuming an excess of any one food.’ We have also been consulting toxicological experts regarding these levels, and support this conclusion based on their expert opinion. For more info, click here.
Additionally, the health benefits of rice have been studied extensively over the years. You can click on this link for a quick reference to many of them. They consistently point to multiple benefits, including lowering risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type two diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Based on their data and available scientific research, FDA is not recommending changes by consumers regarding their consumption of rice and rice products. Eating a balanced and diversified diet that includes a variety of grains in order to ensure good nutrition is FDA’s current advice for consumers.
We appreciate the concern for consumers’ health and will continue to seek ways to reduce inorganic arsenic levels in our products. We also support additional research into the long-term health impacts of lifetime exposure of arsenic from food.
No, cotton has not been grown on our fields. While there has been much speculation linking the overlap of cotton and rice production, we are not aware of any scientific evidence that demonstrates specific field history of cotton growing with increased presence of arsenic in rice coming from that same field. We understand why people make this connection in the abstract, but would encourage individuals to resist this speculation until it is demonstrated with scientific research. One scientific paper we have reviewed suggests that only 5% of land in the US overlaps cotton and rice production. We support further research on the various factors that impact the level of arsenic in the soil, as well as the impact that has on the uptake of arsenic in rice.
Lundberg Family Farms is proud of our strong grower network. We regularly review our carefully selected growers, handlers and processors to ensure food safety regulations and agricultural standards are consistently met. The vast majority of the rice used in our products comes from California. All of the rice in our 1 pound, 2 pound, 4 pound and 12 pound packaged rice comes from California. Our wild rice is sourced primarily from California, with approximately 10% coming from Minnesota. We do work occasionally with our Lundberg Family Farms rice grower and processor partners located in the Southern United States. We do this when the available rice supply in California is not sufficient to meet the demand. This generally happens when we have challenging growing conditions that reduce yields in the field, or when demand grows substantially faster than we anticipate.
A study published in Environmental Science and Technology in April 2007 did make this claim. This study is one of the many that we have links to on our web site, as part of our effort to enable consumers to review data themselves. Because we are not familiar with the process employed by this study, and cannot confirm that its results would be consistently replicated, we are not relying on it as a definitive finding.
Consumer Reports article included results from three samples of each of two varieties, and were not intended to be definitive statements regarding any particular brand or variety’s predictable levels. Our results are from over 180 samples, with two specific crop years reported to date. The ranges reported by Consumer Reports are within the ranges our testing has shown, so we attribute the differences to normal variation expected to be seen in a small sample size.
Last Updated: 9/16/13