Inorganic arsenic in rice and rice-based foods

arsenic in rice

Experts are concerned about presence of inorganic arsenic in rice and rice-based products, reports Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition

Inorganic arsenic in rice and rice-based foods: What you must know

Studies have confirmed the presence of inorganic arsenic in rice and associated foods. The level of arsenic is believed to pose health concerns in infants and children and appropriate steps must be taken to reduce arsenic exposure. Experts suggest that regulation of inorganic arsenic levels present in the dietary products fed to children is a must. Besides, they also insist that parents should avoid giving rice drinks to infants and young children.

Concerns over health of children

As of now, there isn’t any regulation on the arsenic content of foods in the United States and the European Union. So far, scientists have not identified the ‘safe’ level of arsenic and any amount of exposure is known to cause and increase health risks! Different rice varieties have different levels of inorganic arsenic. Of all the paddy crops, rice is said to have a higher concentration of arsenic primarily because of the distinct physiology of the rice plant and the way it is grown in flooded rice paddies. Arsenic concentration is high in the bran layers of the rice. However, this new finding seems to be good news for ‘polished white rice’ eaters.

Needless to say, rice is largely used as a source of carbohydrate as it is readily available, is a non-allergenic, and has considerable nutritional value. That is why rice is also used in the making of infant foods and drinks. The study raises special concern about health risks posed due to arsenic in children who consume rice-based foods more than adults.

Well, what can be done to overcome this issue?

Due to possible health concerns on children, the ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition insists on regulating inorganic arsenic content present in dietary products meant for infants and children. The committee states that rice based foods are not mandatory for infants; they are only an alternative for those infants allergic to the normal cow’s milk. The committee also recommends regulation of arsenic content must be made and this issue must be considered seriously by parents and pediatricians.

Instead of using rice as the staple food, experts suggest that parents can use rice sparingly and include a variety of other nutritious grains like oats, barley, maize and wheat in the diet of the child. They also recommend that it is better to avoid giving rice drinks to these little ones to be on the safer side. In addition, rice drinks and other edible rice-based products must be prepared from rice types that have a low level of arsenic content.

The article is written based on a commentary published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. It is the official journal of ESPGHAN or the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014
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