Facts about the Safety of U.S. Grown Rice

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1 FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS Als see Facts abut the Safety f U.S. Grwn Rice Rice is a nutritius fd and an imprtant part f a healthy diet. While the issue f dietary arsenic expsure frm water and fd including rice is nt new, recent publicatin f a Cnsumer Reprts (CR) stry and a U.S. Fd & Drug Administratin (FDA) reprt have raised cncerns abut the safety f U.S. grwn rice. USA Rice ffers these facts and infrmatin: FDA Says There is N Reasn fr Cnsumers t Stp Eating Rice FDA des nt recmmend changes by cnsumers (including children) regarding their cnsumptin f rice and rice prducts: On September 19 th, FDA released the fllwing statement: Based n the currently available data and scientific literature, the FDA des nt have an adequate scientific basis t recmmend changes by cnsumers regarding their cnsumptin f rice and rice prducts. FDA Deputy Cmmissiner fr Fds Michael Taylr says, It is critical t nt get ahead f the science. The FDA's nging data cllectin and ther assessments will give us a slid scientific basis fr determining what actin levels and/r ther steps are needed t reduce expsure t arsenic in rice and rice prducts. The rice industry is wrking cperatively with FDA during their investigatin int arsenic levels in rice and will cntinue t be engaged with regulatrs, scientists and health prfessinals wh are assessing pssible risks versus the knwn benefits f rice. FDA estimates they will cmplete their investigatin during The rice industry is als cnducting research int agrnmic practices that might mitigate arsenic uptake by rice plants. It is imprtant fr cnsumers t knw that n arsenical pesticides are used in rice prductin. All Healthy Fds Cntain Arsenic Published research frm EPA fund estimated arsenic expsures frm the diet t be lw apprximately ne-fifth the level set t prtect cnsumers frm the effects f lng-term, chrnic expsure t inrganic arsenic in drinking and cking water alne. EPA s published results als indicate that fruit and vegetables as a grup cntribute a greater amunt f inrganic arsenic than rice and ther grains. 1

2 Eliminating rice frm the diet des nt eliminate expsure t arsenic in the diet. In fact, 42 percent f the inrganic arsenic expsure fr cnsumers cmes thrugh vegetables and fruits/fruit juices. Surce: Prbabilistic Mdeling f Dietary Arsenic Expsure and Dse and Evaluatin with NHANES Data, U.S. Envirnmental Prtectin Agency (EPA), March 2010, Xue et al. Arsenic in Fd is Nt a Typical Fd Safety Issue Accrding t fd safety txiclgists, the issue f arsenic levels in fd is nt the usual type f fd safety issue in that there are n knwn instances f illness nr are there scientific studies that directly cnnect arsenic in fd in general, r in rice specifically, t any adverse health effects in the U.S. Thus, scientists wh specialize in this area d nt perceive any imminent hazard such as there might be with mre cmmn fd safety issues fr which there is sme scientific linkage between a cntaminant and a knwn health issue. They als pint ut that since arsenic is a naturally ccurring element that has been in air, sil, rcks and water fr thusands f years, it is nt new, and human bdy has histrically been expsed t it. Investigatins int arsenic levels in fds are part f the U.S. Fd and Drug Administratin s (FDA) and EPA s nging study f envirnmental txins in fd and water. In the absence f any actual reprts f adverse data, agencies use cmputer mdeling t create a risk slpe factr t identify at what level txins culd becme harmful t health. This is the prcess by which the EPA s arsenic in drinking water standard was develped, and this prcess is nw being applied t fds, including rice. Fd scientists and nutritinal experts als say that an assessment f the health benefits f fds versus the perceived risk is an imprtant part f the equatin. 2

3 Such an assessment must take int cnsideratin an analysis f U.S. Natinal Health and Nutritin Examinatin Survey data that shws rice eaters generally have better health parameters than nn-rice eaters. It is als well dcumented that many high rice-cnsuming cultures are typically assciated with lwer cancer and disease rates and better verall health. Gd Nutritin Nt Avidance Is the Best Defense It has lng been knwn that a pr dietary pattern is amng the leading causes f chrnic disease and premature death in the U.S. Fr that reasn, FDA and health prfessinals advise that the best verall health strategy is t fcus n prper diet, which the individual can cntrl, rather than avidance, which is nt a viable strategy. It is imprtant t understand that eliminating a single fd frm the diet will nt end expsure t arsenic since it is a naturally ccurring element fund in all fds and water. The Cnsumer Reprts Article is Flawed Respected fd safety txiclgists and medical experts say that the CR stry des nt add meaningfully t the public discurse f an imprtant issue and unnecessarily alarms cnsumers, wh are nt aware f the facts abut arsenic in all fds. Furthermre, the limited number f tests cnducted by CR are nt a sund basis n which t prvide dietary guidance. The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act standard is a maximum f 20 ppb per day. CR uses a cmparative standard f 5 ppb f inrganic arsenic in drinking water fr the prducts tested. If the federal standard was used, nt a single rice prduct wuld have exceeded that standard fr inrganic arsenic cntent. In fact, cmpared t EPA s maximum expsure level using the drinking water standard (2 liters f water per day cntaining 10 ppb. per liter), rice cntributes rughly 6 times less inrganic arsenic. Accrding t txiclgists, rice cntributes apprximately 3.4 micrgrams f inrganic arsenic fr a ne-half cup serving. The stry cites federal health data t allege health risks frm arsenic in rice when such data is nt precise enugh t make such a cnnectin r draw such a cnclusin. Txiclgists say that when it cmes t any nutrient r cntaminant, cnsumptin and absrptin are tw different things. There is a bdy f scientific evidence that establishes and quantifies the nutritinal benefits f rice cnsumptin; any assessment f the arsenic levels in rice that fails t take this infrmatin int accunt is inherently flawed and very misleading. What is required is a net benefits assessment, similar t that dne by FDA fr methylmercury in fish, where all f the relevant science n risk, as well as the benefits f rice cnsumptin, can be studied. 3

4 There is n crrbrating evidence fr CR s charge relating t arsenical pesticides in frmer cttn fields as a factr in the arsenic cntent f U.S. grwn rice. Furthermre, n arsenical pesticides are used in U.S. rice prductin. U.S. and Internatinal Standard-Setting fr Arsenic Currently, very few cuntries have established levels fr arsenic in rice and fds and, like the U.S. ther cuntries are investigating the issue n an nging basis. CODEX, an internatinal fd safety standards grup that is part f the Wrld Health Organizatin issued a reprt that shws U.S. rice has the lwest inrganic arsenic level f all rice surveyed. Cdex has pstpned setting maximum level standards until 2014 t give cuntries time t cllect sufficient data n which t base standards. Fr mre infrmatin and an electrnic versin f this backgrunder, please visit USA Rice Federatin s website Octber

5 What Health Experts Are Saying Abut Arsenic and the Safety f U.S. Grwn Rice Dr. David Katz MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, is a specialist in internal medicine and preventive medicine, with particular expertise in nutritin, weight management, and chrnic-disease preventin. Surce: US News and Wrld Reprt blg (Sept. 28, 2012) With regard t arsenic in rice, I think there are three fundamental cnsideratins that shuld guide yur persnal respnses. 1. Dn't make perfect the enemy f gd. Our wrld will never again be perfectly free f cntaminants. Fr the mst part, that is ur fault, and there is n ging back (althugh lking ahead, it is imprtant t cntain the damage). S since we can't have perfectly pure fd, the perative questin in the real wrld is: Which f the available chices are best fr health? The presence f a cntaminant in fd des nt reliably indicate that eating the fd is harmful. It's a shame, certainly, that we have put mercury int the ceans, and cnsequently int fish. But studies shw quite cnsistently that habitual fish intake is assciated with better health utcmes, nt wrse. The health benefits f fish cnsumptin seem t utweigh any harms frm the mercury, at least in general. The health benefits f habitual intake f vegetables and fruits clearly utweigh any harms frm the arsenic they cntain, r trace pesticide residues. Similarly, there is mre arsenic in brwn rice than white, but the health benefits f eating a whle grain may utweigh that. And in general, althugh mre rice intake seems t mean mre arsenic expsure, ppulatins with the highest rice intake actually have lwer, nt higher, rates f cancer than urs in the U.S. 2. Dn't exaggerate a risk just because yu dn't cntrl it. We have knwn fr decades that the fur leading causes f chrnic disease and premature death in industrialized cuntries are smking, pr dietary pattern, lack f physical activity, and besity. Yet these fur are rutinely ignred r neglected by peple wh get very wrked up ver the latest chemical threat in ur fd r envirnment. We shuld nt ignre big risks just because they are under ur cntrl, nr exaggerate much smaller nes simply because they are nt. 5

6 3. New in the news is nt new in the wrld. Cnsumer Reprts just released its reprt n arsenic in rice, and that put the tpic in the news. But arsenic in rice, and ther fds, and the envirnment, is nt new. It's been there fr decades. The tendency when a chemical threat is highlighted in the news is t think the threat itself is new, and the cnsequences are unknwn, and in the future. But if arsenic in rice r ther fds des actually cntribute t cancer risk, it has been ding s fr years. And verall cancer ccurrence rates, and cancer death rates, have been falling, nt rising, ver recent years in the U.S. Again, this des nt mean we shuld ignre arsenic in ur fd. But the ntin that there is a spike in cancer r ther disease rates lming arund the next bend is misguided; we are already arund that bend, and any harms f arsenic are already part f the epidemilgic landscape we knw. I lk frward t FDA guidelines regarding safe levels f arsenic in fds, and t fd manufacturers respnding cnstructively t that guidance. In the interim, thugh, brwn rice will remain a part f my diet, as will ther fds cntaining rice; just as vegetables and fruits d despite sme ptential fr cntaminants there, and just as fish des despite the mercury. Perfectly pure fd is, alas, nt available n this planet. S thse f us living here shuld fcus n net health effects rather than the media hype du jur, and d the best we can with the fd supply we've gt. Dr. Frank LVecchi Medical Txiclgist, Banner Gd Samaritan Pisn and Drug Infrmatin Center Surce: AZ Family Arsenic in rice: Cnsumer Reprts 'verstated' danger, says Phenix dc [Cnsumer Reprts] made recmmendatins that are a little t much... It's impssible t eliminate arsenic frm rice. It's impssible t eliminate it frm ur envirnment. I think the best thing t d is g n with what yu're ding and realize that this was a little verstated... The levels are s lw, and there are s many ther fds that have this. It'd almst be like eliminating the air that yu breathe. I can tell yu in a cuple f years, we'll be sitting here again and talking abut anther substance that has minute amunts f arsenic that was checked and thught t maybe be harmful. Dr. Keith-Thmas Ayb, EdD, RD, FADA Assciate Clinical Prfessr f Pediatrics, Albert Einstein Cllege f Medicine Surce: Fd Navigatr Medic: I Have Never Seen Any f My Patients Becme Ill Due t Arsenic in Fd During mre than 25 years f clinical practice, I have never seen any f my patients becme ill r suffer a health cnditin due t the arsenic in fd, nt even fds that cnsumers eat n a daily basis. Arsenic levels are measured in parts per billin (ppb). Imagine this: 1ppb is equal t a drplet f water in an Olympic sized swimming pl. That s hw lw these levels are. Here s what yu can d. Nthing. Accrding t the FDA, dn t change yur diet and in fact cntinue t eat a balanced diet rich in grains such as rice and remember t make half yur plate fruits and vegetables. 6

7 It s unfair t single ut ne cmpund in fd, especially when these fds cntribute t a healthful diet verall. Research indicates individuals wh cnsume fds like 100% fruit juice and rice actually have lwer rates f cancer. Until a time when FDA changes its recmmendatins, there appears t be n need t change yur diet based n these recent findings and mst imprtantly, there is n need t wrry. Dr. Esther Krych Pediatrician, May Clinic C-Editr, May Clinic Guide t Yur Baby's First Year Surce: ABC-6KAAL-Minnesta Cncern Over Arsenic in Rice Hits Ethnic Cmmunities The truth is we dn't really knw the link between the arsenic levels in rice and health prblems, s it's really just an awareness that's been raised, but we're nt necessarily saying that yes, this will cause prblems in kids r adults r ther peple that eat rice. The peple wh eat rice fr cultural reasns n a regular basis have nt been shwn t have higher health prblems than peple wh dn't eat rice n a regular basis. Surce: Minnesta Public Radi News May: Take precautins with rice after arsenic reprt Kent Sepkwitz Infectius-Disease Specialist Academic Medical Cntributing Writer fr The New Yrk Times, Slate and O Surce: The Daily Beast/Newsweek Why Rice Cntains Detectable Levels f Arsenic Cnsumer Reprts s intentinally alarming study fllwed its investigatin earlier this year that fund wrrying amunts f arsenic in apple and grape juices. Hw did smething as whlesme and all-natural as rice find itself in such shady cmpany, right there with preservatives and fast fd? Because it is natural. Fd grwn in sil absrbs whatever ptential txins are present. S, what s a persn t d? Rice is an essential fd fr cuntless grups, said t prvide ne fifth f the calries cnsumed wrldwide by humans. It can t simply be cashiered until further studies determine its safety. Cnsumer Reprts prvides a few tips n hw t reduce yur arsenic risk, including increasing cnsumptin f ther grains such as wheat r quina and washing rice thrughly. The latter flies in the face f lngstanding admnishments nt t rinse, lest the nutrients be washed away. And there is the rub in ur attempt t make ur fd ever safer, we may be thrwing ut the nutrients with the bath water. Fr mre infrmatin, visit USA Rice Federatin s website Octber

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