October 4th, 2012 11:15am
It seems these days we are being warned of new dangers associated with various foods on a weekly if not daily basis. With this many warnings and red flags, how are we to know which ones to take seriously? Well, it seems that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is weighing in on one of the most recent foods to come under attack, and the agency appears to be taking things seriously.
The FDA recently released preliminary data related to arsenic levels in rice and certain rice products. According to the FDA, the data is based on the first set of approximately 200 samples of rice and rice products collected in the U.S. marketplace. The FDA says it is in the process of collecting and analyzing approximately 1,200 samples to investigate the issue as thoroughly as possible and it expects the data collection to be completed by the end of 2012. The FDA will then use this data to determine whether or not it should issue additional recommendations.
Based on the initial data, the FDA says it does not have adequate scientific basis to recommend changes to consumers relating to their consumption of rice and rice products. The FDA’s initial analysis of the samples found an average of 3.5 to 6.7 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per serving in the various rice and rice products tested. The FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Michael Taylor, commented on the data and the FDA’s ongoing review saying, “It is critical to not get ahead of the science. The FDA’s ongoing data collection and other assessments will give us a solid scientific basis for determining what action levels and/or other steps are needed to reduce exposure to arsenic in rice and rice products.”
So, while we might not have guidance quite yet on whether or not we should be concerned about arsenic in our rice, at least we know we’ll have guidance from the FDA soon. And in the meantime, the FDA recommends consumers eat a balanced diet containing a wide variety of grains, not only for good nutrition, but also to minimize any negative consequences of any one particular food.
K. Lea Morris is an associate at the firm of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty, and Proctor. Lea focuses her practice on Mass Torts and works on a number of projects including Gadolinium, Trasylol, Avandia, Breast Implant, and Reglan.