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We have updated our arsenic testing page with results of our 2020 crop. Overall, the levels remain in the range we have seen over the nine years we have been monitoring inorganic arsenic in our products.
In 2018, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) published guidance to establish default natural background levels for inorganic arsenic in brown rice at 0.170 ppm. The concentration level established take into account the possible contribution of anthropogenic sources and is considered the naturally occurring safe harbor value. The consensus remains that US-grown rice fits well as part of a balanced diet for the general population.
The FDA issued guidance in 2020 to limit the levels of inorganic arsenic in rice used in infant cereal to address potential developmental concerns. At the same time, they 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 The average levels in our rice over the past nine years of testing continue to fall below the FDA’s draft guidance.
Codex, the international agency tasked with providing guidance for foods in international trade, issued its guideline for maximum levels of arsenic in white rice at 0.20ppm in 2015 and maximum levels of arsenic in brown rice at 0.35ppm in 2019. Our brown rice products continue to test at less than half this level.
We support consumers’ right to know about the food they are eating and remain committed to transparency about the food we provide. We have published arsenic-testing results for our crop for the past nine 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. We take pride in our food safety and we continue to work to bring you relevant information.
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. You can always reach us with your suggestions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (888) 215-2958.
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.
Arsenic Mode of Action
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.
In 2019, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) adopted a standard ML of 350 ppb for brown rice (husked rice).
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.
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 General Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Food and Feed CXS193-1995, Codex Alimentarius Commision, Amended in 2019. http://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/sh-proxy/en/?lnk=1&url=https%253A%252F%252Fworkspace.fao.org%252Fsites%252Fcodex%252FStandards%252FCXS%2B193-1995%252FCXS_193e.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.