“Without alarms, but with caution” explains the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) when announcing its latest study on the presence of arsenic in rice and derived food products. The reason is that, except in specific cases, typical intakes of this cereal would not exceed the thresholds considered acceptable.
136 samples. The OCU has recently published the results of its latest study on the presence of arsenic in rice and derived products. The organization took different varieties of the product, short and long grain white, basmati and integral, all raw, as well as pre-cooked rice. In addition, it also analyzed derived products such as cereal porridge, children’s jars, pancakes, drinks, noodles or breakfast cereals.
From their results it can be inferred that no product, consumed at a rate of one serving per day, can pose a risk to health, although higher consumptions could imply exceeding the thresholds established by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Caution for children and pregnant women. The foods in which more arsenic has been detected are brown rice (with 131 micrograms of arsenic per kg of product) and rice cakes (139 micrograms per kg). The established limit for daily consumption is 0.3 micrograms per kilogram of body mass. In other words, an adult person weighing 70 kg would have a limit of 21 micrograms per day.
If we convert this to rice consumption, it means that a person weighing 70 kg would have their daily brown rice consumption limit of about 160 grams (portions range between 50 and 100 grams of the product). In the case of white rice (with lower concentrations, 75 micrograms / kg) the limit would be around 280 grams per day. In the case of pancakes, you would have to consume between 15 and 21 units to exceed the limit (or 151 grams).
arsenic. Arsenic is a semimetal, although it is also often considered a toxic heavy metal. It can appear in different structures, being the inorganic arsenic more dangerous than the organic one. This has nothing to do with the methods with which the rice is grown, but with the fact that the molecule to which it belongs is of an organic structure (with the presence of carbon) or inorganic.
Low consumption does not imply health risks, but it is an element that easily accumulates in our body, and that is when the derived risks appear. Arsenic can imply developmental problems for the very young, while in adults it has been linked to skin disorders, bladder and lung cancer.
Reducing the arsenic content is possible. To add to the caution, there are ways to lower the arsenic content of rice. The first is to wash it. Much of the analysis was carried out on raw and untreated rice. The OCU itself recommends washing rice as a preventive measure. Washing the rice well, leaving it to soak for a while, also reduces the time needed for cooking.
Alternatively, it is also possible to cook the rice in abundant water (twice as much as we would normally use) and discard the excess water at the end of cooking. That is, cook the rice as if it were pasta.
The best way to prevent excessive consumption of arsenic is a balanced diet. Although it is an element present in many products, the concentration levels vary. The problem of focusing on one product implies that we do not see the diet as a whole, a factor that makes us tend to alarmism.
Imagen | University of Arkansas Community Extension Service, CC BY-SA 2.0