Arsenic in Rice…Should Celiacs Be Concerned?
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Sep 22 2012

Arsenic in Rice…Should Celiacs Be Concerned?

Over the past week there have been several recent studies released regarding arsenic found in rice.  This is especially worrisome to me, as I am sure it is for many on the gluten-free diet, as my diet consists of a lot of rice or rice-based products.  I don’t want to jump to conclusions or necessarily make any more diet changes, but I do want to be educated so that I can make an informed decision.  Here is an excerpt from one of the articles I read regarding the rice:

Are some rice products better than others? Maybe. Consumer Reports test represent a snapshot of the market from which they cannot draw any conclusions about any particular brands, but they did observe some trends. White rice grown in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas generally had higher levels of total and inorganic arsenic (the most worrisome kind) than rice samples from elsewhere (India, Thailand and California as a group).

In addition, within any given brand, brown rice had more arsenic than white, although some individual brown rice samples were lower in arsenic compared to some white rice samples, possibly due to agricultural practices or where they were grown. Regardless of rice type and origin, Consumer Reports suggests adults adhere to the two-servings-a-week consumption limit. You can find suggested limits for consumption of all the rice products tested at consumerreports.org.

Is there anything else the individual consumer can do? Consumer Reports suggests that you cook rice the Asian way–rinse first and then cook with six cups of water to one cup of rice–and pour the excess water off at the end. Research suggests that this can remove some 30 percent of inorganic arsenic. In addition, kids under 6 shouldn’t drink more than 4 to 6 ounces of apple or grape juice a day. Consumer Reports tests published this past January showed that they can contain elevated arsenic as well.

(source)

I started to think about all of the things I eat that contain rice:

  • Quaker Rice Cakes
  • Brown rice
  • Gluten-free flours that contain rice flour
  • Gluten-free baked goods/bread that contains rice flour
  • Breakfast cereals

Before I started to freak out, I began to think about things that I can do to reduce my intake of rice.  Sure, there are going to be certain products that I have no control over should I choose to eat said product, but I am focusing on the ones I can change.

  • Quinoa, buckwheat or millet grain in place of brown rice
  • Use alternative gluten-free flours when baking (sorghum, potato, quinoa, buckwheat, teff, millet, coconut, almond meal, gluten-free oats and oat flour)

Lundberg Family Farms has a page with more information and steps they are taking to begin to include arsenic testing on their crops.

What are your thoughts about the current findings?

Article Written by:

Kimberly Bouldin is a gluten-free wife, runner & blogger with two children in Columbus, Ohio. After her celiac diagnosis in 2006, she has made it her mission to embrace an entirely new approach to nutrition in a gluten-free world, exploring options that run the gamut from "made from scratch" homemade bread to sampling and reviewing the gluten-free prepared foods that are continuously being introduced to the market. While navigating the waters of becoming gluten-free, Kim shares her experiences and passes along valuable product reviews in addition to helping other moms of celiac kids develop healthy menus that are kid-friendly and palatable. Kimberly is a valuable resource for those who are newly diagnosed, as well as for the more seasoned gluten-free veterans. Follow Kim on Twitter!

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  • Donna Noel

    I don’t understand why more celiacs aren’t concerned about the level of arsenic we are eating.No one knows yet if there is a problem.I am having my levels tested.I am married to a phsician who thinks it’s the wise thing to do.I eat rice products 4 or 5 times a day.Is this a problem? Who knows?Isn’t anyone else curious? Donna

  • Charlene R.

    As a recently diagnosed Celiac, I’m attempting to learn a lot of information, making smart decisions about switching my flours. I am concerned about the arsenic and I am VERY interested to hear your results, if they are high, I will approach my physician and request testing as well. Could you please keep us posted Donna?