Seven Things Pregnant Women and Parents Need to Know About Arsenic in Rice and Rice Cereal
You may be surprised to learn that there is arsenic in rice.
In fact, rice is not the only food or beverage that contains arsenic. It’s also found in vegetables, fruits, and many other foods. The FDA has been monitoring the presence of arsenic in food as part of its ongoing oversight of the safety of the food supply. And now we’ve looked at arsenic in infant rice cereal.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Arsenic is an element in the Earth’s crust and is present in very small amounts in water, soil and air. Crops absorb arsenic as they grow. That’s how it gets into foods and beverages — it’s not an additive or ingredient — and it cannot be completely eliminated.
There are two forms of arsenic, organic and inorganic, with inorganic being the more toxic. The term “organic” in this case has nothing to do with types of farming. It’s about chemical elements. If arsenic atoms bond with carbon, the compound is organic. If there’s no carbon present, it’s inorganic.
Rice is a staple of the global diet, and is also a leading dietary source of inorganic arsenic, both because of how commonly it’s consumed and because as rice plants grow, the plant and grain tend to absorb arsenic more readily than other food crops.