FDA and Rice Industry At Odds with Consumer Reports’ Recommendations
On Wednesday, Consumer Reports released a study on arsenic in rice which advised for limiting consumption of rice and recommended arsenic standards for food products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. rice industry took issue with the report, especially with regard to recommendations for consumers to limit rice intake and for the government to set limits on arsenic in food products.
Arsenic is a chemical element that appears naturally in soils, rocks, water, air, and plants. It is also a known carcinogen. In addition to organic arsenic, inorganic arsenic was used in the past with pesticides for agricultural purposes. It is unclear what impact the Consumer Reports study will have on human consumption behaviors or on what actions legislators and regulators may take.
While Consumer Reports suggested limited consumption of rice by humans, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that “there is an absence of the necessary scientific data that shows a causal relationship between those who consume higher levels of rice and rice products and the type of illness usually detected with arsenic. Based on the available data and scientific literature, the FDA is not recommending changes by consumers regarding their consumption of rice and rice products. We believe it would be premature for the FDA to recommend modifying diets because of arsenic levels until a more thorough analysis is completed.”
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe also weighed in on the matter by saying, “They (the rice insdustry) are not doing anything different with rice, as I understand it, than they have ever done. We’ve lived off of it for years. It’s good, it’s nutritious and it’s a major part of our agriculture industry. I’m not going to quit eating rice.”
The rice industry was very vocal in explaining the nutritious values of rice and downplaying the significance of the findings by Consumer Reports. However, the rice industry did express a willingness to work with the FDA and further examine the issue to ensure that rice remains a safe and nutritious food for all consumers. The full statement by the rice industry is HERE.