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Arsenic In Rice At Safe Levels Per FDA Above Average Consumption May Exceed Prop 65 Levels

Posted in Agricultural Law, Agriculture Law, Food Safety, Prop 65

As part of its ongoing effort to monitor food safety, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”)  posted the results of testing for the presence of arsenic in rice and rice products.

The FDA found that although levels varied depending on the product, overall the levels of detectable  arsenic is too low in the rice and rice product samples to cause any immediate or short-term adverse health effects. According to their posting the FDA has been monitoring arsenic levels in rice for more than 20 years and has seen no evidence of change in levels of total arsenic in rice.

“The FDA’s advice for consumers, including pregnant women, infants and children, is to eat a well-balanced diet for good nutrition and to minimize potential adverse consequences from consuming an excess of any one food. This advice is consistent with the guidance of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has long stated that parents should feed their infants and toddlers a variety of foods as part of a well-balanced diet.” The testing included a variety of  products including beer, cereals and rice itself .

Among the rice grain categories, the average levels of inorganic arsenic ranged from 2.6 to 7.2 micrograms  of inorganic arsenic per serving, with instant rice at the low end of the range and brown rice at the high end. Among the rice product categories, of which there was a wide variety, the average levels of inorganic arsenic ranged from 0.1 to 6.6 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per serving, with infant formula at the low end of the range and rice pasta at the high end.  Per the report a serving,  based on Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) per 21CFR 101.12 for each product category; 45 grams appears to be the referenced serving size for rice, and amounts to about 1/4 cup, dry.

With respect to Prop 65, the NSRL (No Significant Risk Level) under Prop 65 is 10 mcg/day, which implies that the Prop 65 level could be exceeded if more than one serving was consumed per day. However, Prop 65 allows, with a cancer causing chemical, to look at the general population’s average consumption;  thus rice, at the highest arsenic level,  actually derives an exposure level of 1.44 micrograms a day, well below the 10 mcg NSRL.