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Arsenic in Rice Not a Short-Term Risk, FDA Says

Update Date: Sep 07, 2013 05:48 AM EDT

The Food and Drug Administration said that the arsenic levels found in rice and its products were not high enough to pose “immediate or short-term adverse health effects.”

The test was carried out on more than 1,300 samples of rice. Though the agency also said it would continue to investigate whether lifetime consumption of rice was posing any chronic health risks.

Since rice is grown in flooded fields, it is particularly vulnerable to absorbing the chemical element Arsenic. Earlier consumer groups and paediatricians have also called for the FDA to set arsenic standards in rice.

“These are the next steps,” Suzanne C. Fitzpatrick, the senior adviser for toxicology at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement. “To look at exposure levels, to analyze the risk, and determine how to minimize that risk for the overall safety of consumers, including vulnerable groups like children and pregnant women," he added.

The U.S.A Rice Federation said it was “pleased” by the test results brought into light by FDA and also said the FDA “has provided American consumers with renewed assurances that there is no need to change a well-balanced diet that includes rice.” The industry is also conducting research into how the levels of arsenic can be lowered further.

The natural arsenic contamination can occur from sources such as volcanic eruptions or eroding rocks. The artificial way involves introducing the chemical element in the ground water and soil through mining and the use of pesticides.

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