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‘Unleaded’ Rice

By on April 11, 2013

How much lead is acceptable in your food? None is the only answer.

But disturbingly, rice imported from certain countries contains high levels of lead that could pose health risks, particularly for infantsrice and children, who are especially sensitive to lead’s effects.  The United States has vast rice fields in Louisiana, California, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi but imports of rice and rice flour are increasing ― by more than 200 percent since 1999 ― and rice is the staple food for 3 billion people worldwide.

Researcher Tsanangurayi Tongesayi, Ph.D., and his team found some of the highest lead levels in baby food and will report findings for the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society this month. The research was part of a symposium titled “Food and Its Environment: What Is In What We Eat?”

Tongesayi’s team found that levels of lead in rice imported into the United States ranged from 6 to 12 milligrams/kilogram. From those numbers, they calculated the daily exposure levels for various populations and then made comparisons with the FDA’s PTTI levels for lead.

They detected the highest amounts of lead in rice from Taiwan and China. Samples from the Czech Republic, Bhutan, Italy, India and Thailand had significantly high levels of lead as well.

Analysis of rice samples from Pakistan, Brazil and other countries were still underway.

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