Arsenic and Rice — The Poisonous Truth

Jan, 05, 2015

By Fredrica Syren:

Rice is a staple crop and the dietary foundation for many of the world’s population. I for one love rice. No wonder it is so popular: it’s an excellent source of energy, is packed with vitamins and minerals, and provides an excellent source of vitamin E, B vitamins (thiamin, niacin) and potassium. Now, if I told you it also contains arsenic, how would you feel? Yeah, I know. It shocked me as well and really made me consider not adding it to my kids’ menu.

Researchers have found that most popular rice products — including white rice, brown rice, organic rice baby cereal, and rice breakfast cereals — contain

Picture from http://thegrio.files.wordpress.com
Picture from http://thegrio.files.wordpress.com

arsenic. The really scary part is that many of the products containing arsenic are aimed towards children and babies, who are the most vulnerable to exposure to toxins since their brain and nervous system have not yet developed. Research shows that arsenic exposure during childhood is associated with neurobehavioral problems as well as cancer and lung disease later in life.

Just like me, you might assume this will not be an issue with organic food, but the sad fact is that virtually every rice product on the market today, including many labeled “all natural” and “organic,” contains detectable levels of arsenic. Brown rice is found to contain higher arsenic levels than white rice.

How did the arsenic get into the rice in the first place? Rice absorbs more arsenic from both soil and water than other plants because it grows in water, which allows arsenic to be absorbed by its roots and stored in the grains. Lots of arsenic, especially in the U.S., comes from pesticides. Furthermore, arsenic is also used in animal feed to help prevent diseases and to make the animals grow faster. Of course it’s transported out of the animal through its poop, but it ends up in soil at some point.

Consumer Report states that, according to its research, they recommend that kids should eat only one serving of rice a week; and that does include rice cakes, rice baby cereal and cereal. When you do eat rice, make sure to wash it thoroughly before cooking. And choose white instead of brown rice.

Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)


  1. Reply

    carol matthews

    January 17, 2015

    Hi!! Hofmann farms is committed to eradicate arsenic from baby foods. We are growing rice in California that contains no arsenic. We are in the process of going to market by October with a brown rice baby cereal. it will be premium priced due to the relatively limited amount we can produce each year. Would you be interested? I really appreciate your concern as this is a very serious issue. thank for reading!! carol

  2. Reply

    Grant Mcgraff

    January 30, 2017

    The subsequent time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I really thought youd have one thing attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you possibly can fix in the event you werent too busy on the lookout for attention.

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