by Jay Scherder, KY3 News
1:26 PM CDT, September 21, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo -- A new report sheds some unfavorable light on rice products. A Consumer Reports' investigation found troubling levels of arsenic in apple and grape juice a year ago. Now new tests by the organization have uncovered worrisome levels of arsenic in rice and in many products made from rice.
Rice is everywhere--white rice, brown rice, rice cakes, crackers, even cereal. Rice cereal is often a baby's first food.
But Consumer Reports' tested 32 rices and dozens of rice products and all contained arsenic.
Even worse, lab tests showed many of the samples had troubling levels of inorganic arsenic - the most toxic form.
"Inorganic arsenic is a known human carcinogen that has been linked to skin, lung, and bladder cancer," said Consumer Reports expert Andrea Rock.
There are federal limits for the amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water, but none for rice and most other foods. Also, brown rice often had more arsenic than white rice.
"We aren't able to draw conclusions about specific brands because our tests are limited. But the analysis we did of government data shows that for Americans who eat rice, it is a significant source of arsenic exposure," said Rock.
The USA Rice Federation, an industry trade group, insists "There is no documented evidence of actual adverse health effects from exposure to arsenic in U.S. grown rice."
"Why are we seeing arsenic pop up in our food? Because it's in our water, in our soil. How did it get there? We put it there," said Home Grown Foods Owner Amanda Owen.
The report says the remnants of lead-arsenate insecticides used years ago lingers in the soil--even though they were banned in the 80's.
"It's important to know where your food is coming from, who grew it and how," Owen said.
Owen gets rice from Braggadocio--in the heart of the boot heel--and is confident that it's safe.
"Steve McKaskle, he's a fifth generation family farmer. He's actually had his water and soil tested for arsenic," she said.
But if you don't know where your rice comes from, you err on the side of caution. Research shows that rinsing rice thoroughly and cooking it in lots of water as you do with pasta can reduce arsenic levels.
According to Consumer Reports arsenic is still permitted in some pesticides, fertilizer, and animal feed. Their advocacy group is calling on the government to set limits on arsenic in food and ban its use in agriculture.
Copyright © 2013, KY3-TV