Arsenic: A Message From Sam Wylde III, President of Ener-G Foods

Ener-G Foods, Inc. (Winter 2012)

We are still receiving numerous e-mails and telephone calls from customers concerned about arsenic in Rice Bran, and in Brown Rice. A good source of information is the FDA which has posted some answers about the issue of arsenic in foods on their website (*1) You can also go to the their Office of Regulatory Affairs (*2) site and type in what you are searching for in the top right; this is also an excellent source for other questions.

I believe a lot of the confusion is caused by using general arsenic analyses, instead of inorganic arsenic analyses. General arsenic analyses include both organic and inorganic arsenic. Organic arsenic is essentially harmless. More confusion is caused by a lack of regulatory standards for inorganic arsenic, though some standards exist for some meats, some food ingredients and for drinking water.

Inorganic arsenic is water soluble while organic arsenic is not. The EPA has therefore set strict limits on inorganic arsenic in water.(*3) In the oceans, bottom feeders, lobsters, shellfish, etc., have significant levels of organic arsenic, but not of inorganic arsenic because most of the inorganic arsenic that they absorb from the water is turned into organic arsenic by their digestive systems. Carbon and oxygen are combined with inorganic arsenic to make organic arsenic. Our bodies excrete the organic arsenic, which is why it is essentially harmless. Plants such as rice pick up arsenic as inorganic arsenic and turn much of it into nontoxic organic arsenic. However, trace amounts of inorganic arsenic do get into some plants such as rice.

The method for differentiating inorganic arsenic is available at


Sam Wylde, III.

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