Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that is found in soil and water. Some people also use rice drink as a substitute for milk. The consumption of other things prepared from rice is also increasing rapidly.
“It can be poisonous and the European Union has placed it in the list of carcinogens of the first category. This means that it can cause cancer in humans.”
Arsenic level in rice
Since arsenic can be found in soil and water, it is possible that some amounts of it may also go into food. But in general, the level of arsenic in our food and drink is so low that there is no need to worry about it.
But rice contains ten to twenty times more arsenic than other food grains. The reason for this is that a lot of water is used in rice cultivation. For this reason, it becomes easier for arsenic to leave the soil and enter the rice.
Professor Andy Meharg from Queen’s University in Belfast has worked in this area for years. On the basis of research and testing, Professor Andy Meharg said, “Basmati rice has lower levels of arsenic than other types of rice. Brown rice has a high amount of arsenic. This is because of the rice bran.”
“Organic (without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides) rice cultivation does not make any difference to the level of it. Rice milk contains much more arsenic than is allowed in drinking water.
Professor Andy Meharg explains that in the past, the amount of arsenic in rice products is no longer allowed. There are laws in the UK that determine the level of it in rice.
In 2014, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued guidelines regarding the presence of it in rice. The European Union also set arsenic levels for products sold in Europe.
The European Union has set lower levels of arsenic for products sold for young children. Concerns have been raised several times about its levels in the Northeast of India and in states like West Bengal.
Professor Andy Mehrgh believes that more steps need to be taken to protect children and those who eat rice in large quantities.
How much rice is considered safe to eat?
This is a complex question and it is difficult to give any definite opinion about it. But a guess can be made according to the information available.
For the amount of arsenic that falls in the low-risk category, we resorted to a report by the American organization Food Standards Agency. The consumption of 100 grams of rice can be considered sufficient for an adult person weighing more than 70 kg.
But these figures should not be taken as a target for daily intake. It should also be kept in mind that it can reach our body through other food items and water also.