Ener-G Foods, Inc. (fall 2012)
The Gluten Free Dietitian has a good update on arsenic in rice. Go to: http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/newsletter/2012/09/29/arsenic-and-rice-update-for-gluten-free-consumers/
Most of our rice flour (both brown and white) comes from Northern California, though some comes from Texas. Rice flour in our products is only one of several ingredients we use. Even when rice flour appears near the top of our ingredient lists it is minor compared to all the other ingredients added together. It is diluted by other ingredients.
Arsenic is a fascinating element. I continually post arsenic updates to our website. Attached is a recent release by the USDA on this subject titled, Summary of USDA-ARS Research as the Interrelationship of Genetic and Cultural Management Factors that Impact Grain Arsenic Accumulation in Rice. The USDA release does a good job on explaining solutions. Some simple changes in farming techniques and types of rice planted are being adopted.
What is important isn’t the total amount of arsenic in a food, it is the amount of Inorganic Arsenic.
Arsenic comes in two broad types, Organic and Inorganic. Organic arsenic (meaning it contains carbon) isn’t a problem. It isn’t considered toxic.
(attachment from Maryland Department of Health). Inorganic arsenic is toxic, though there are inorganic arsenics that are less toxic and ones that are more toxic, depending on the type of inorganic arsenic. This relates to their valence numbers.
The Consumer Reports Article states that USA rice is higher in inorganic arsenic than other rice from other countries. The attached peer review study, Variation in Arsenic Speciation and Concentration in Paddy Rice Related to Dietary Exposure, states the reverse. USA rice contains less inorganic arsenic than rice from other countries (statistically). This is because USA rice predominately contains an organic arsenic named DMAv instead of inorganic arsenic.
But, the really good news is that some changes in how rice is grown, as explained in the attached USDA release will greatly reduce arsenic in rice based ingredients.
A good source of information on arsenic in rice: Arsenic facts
We have received many inquiries about arsenic because of the recent publicity about arsenic in rice.
Arsenic is divided into 2 broad categories. Organic arsenic and inorganic arsenic. Organic arsenic is essentially harmless. Inorganic arsenic can be toxic. This is explained in “Organic vs. Inorganic Arsenic1”.
The FDA, the European Food Safety Authority, the United Nations Codex Alimentarious Commission and China’s Food Safety Commission are trying to establish limits for inorganic arsenic in foods, including rice. China’s has a maximum level for total arsenic in rice of 0.4 microgram per kilogram2.
Arsenic is widely distributed in foods and water. FDA has set some limits on a few foods3. It is also possible to search for the amount of arsenic in your drinking water4.
Plants accumulate arsenic because it protects them from harmful micro-organisms, especially fungi. Rice isn’t unique in this.
“All plants pick up arsenic,” John M. Duxbury, PhD, a professor of soil science and international agriculture at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., says in an email. “Concentrations in leaves of plants are much higher than in grains of plants. Thus, leafy vegetables can contain higher levels of arsenic than rice, especially when they are grown on arsenic-contaminated soils."5
Lettuce readily absorbs and stores arsenic.”6
Arsenic can also be plentiful in wheat,7chicken8 and juice9. “The largest quantity of dietary arsenic, about 90% of the arsenic in US diets, comes from saltwater finfish and seafoods (Adams et. Al,1994).10.
What is important is to set tolerance levels for inorganic arsenic instead of a tolerance for total arsenic, for all foods. Arsenic is just one of several metals/minerals which should have food tolerance levels.
I will be updating our website concerning arsenic to keep-up with developments.
1. Fight for Your Health. Organic vs. Inorganic Arsenic. Dr. Gordon. April 20th, 2010.
2. Stricter Limits on metals in infant foods, China Daily. September 22, 2012.
3. You can search for arsenic amounts permitted in foods by going to CFR21 on and typing in arsenic or by going to a direct reference. For example 21 CFR 556.60 (4/1/2001).
4. Environmental Working Group In the top left corner type in your zip to findout what is in your drinking water. Environmental Working Group..
5. Food Insight August 28, 2012. Accessed September 22, 2012.
6. Lettuce leaves laced with Arsenic of Old. Accessed September 22, 2012. Newsminer.com. April 16, 2010.
7. Arsenic Speciation in Wheat and Wheat Products. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, Issue 1, 2011. Marilena D’Amato, Federica Aurici, Silvia Clardullo, Andrea Ragg and Francesio Cubadda.
8. Food for Chickens, Poison for Man. Melinda Wenner. Posted September 20, 2006.
9. Arsenic in your food. Consumer Reports.org. November 2012.
10. Seafood Arsenic: Implications for human risk assessment. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Jonathan Borak, H. Dean Hosgood. November 7, 2006. Accessede September 22, 2012.
Sam Wylde, III.
Ener-G Foods, Inc.
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