Dairy Free

Arsenic in Rice

The Food Standards Agency has today published results from studies into levels of arsenic in rice drinks and one on cooking methods to reduce arsenic levels in rice. So after I poured rice milk on my porrdige this morning I am a little worried.

As a result of the studies, the Food Stanards Agency is recommending that toddlers and young children should not have rice milk drinks, as a replacement for cows’ milk, breast milk or infant formula. This is because they will then drink a relatively large amount of it, and their intake of arsenic will be greater than that of older children and adults relative to their bodyweight. This is both on nutritional grounds and because such substitution can increase their intake of inorganic arsenic, which should be kept as low as possible. A daily half pint or 280 millilitres of rice drink could double the amount of the more harmful form of arsenic they consume each day.

The research published today examined 60 samples of rice drinks and found low levels of arsenic in all of them; arsenic levels ranged from 0.010 – 0.034 milligram/kilogram and the levels of inorganic – the more harmful – form of arsenic ranged from 0.005 – 0.020 milligram/kilogram. The proportion of inorganic arsenic in the rice drink samples ranged from 48 – 63%.

NB. Important to note that none of the results were over the current legal limit.

The FSA stated “There is no immediate risk to children who have been consuming rice drinks and it is unlikely that there would have been any long-term harmful effects but to reduce further exposure to arsenic parents should stop giving these drinks to toddlers and young children.”

So what to do now – is soya milk or oatly a good alternative, I think the best advise for those with small children is to seek advice from your health professional or dietitian on suitable replacements.

The agency also stated that “Other groups of people do not need to change their diet because their exposure to inorganic arsenic from rice drinks is lower relative to their bodyweight.” However it also states “people should consume as little of this form of arsenic as reasonably practicable.”

That’s the latest on arsenic in rice, I will keep us updated as more news and advice become avalible, as so far I am not sure either way if Rice Milk is still ok for me to drink. Overall I love the taste of rice milk but I a not sure arsenic in rice milk sounds like a great idea.

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Miranda
    May 22, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Bit more info on arsenic and rice milk…Arsenic is widely distributed in the environment. It occurs in soil, water – both sea and fresh – and in almost all plants and animal tissues. As a result, arsenic occurs naturally at very low levels in many foods and it is not possible to avoid it completely. How harmful the arsenic is depends on the chemical form in which it is present. The organic form is less harmful than the inorganic form which can cause cancer by harming our genetic material (DNA). Rice and rice products have higher levels of the inorganic form of arsenic compared with other food.

  • Reply
    Laura
    May 22, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    The FSA have only advised that 1-4 year-olds shouldn’t have it but I still don’t think I would want to use it as my main milk (although it wouldn’t stop me havng moderate amounts).
    For yong children with cow’s milk allergy/intolerance calcium-enriched soya milk is likely to be a more nutritious choice than rice or oat milk anyway as it provides 3.3g protein per 100mL (Alpro), whereas Oat milk only provides 1g/100mL (Oatly enriched) and rice milk just 0.1g/100mL (Rice Dream). For comparison cow’s milk provides 3.5g protein per 100g.
    As Miranda says, the best place to get personal advice on this is from your health professional or dietitian.

  • Reply
    Laura
    May 22, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Oh, and whatever milk you use don’t forget that Organic varieties are usually very low in calcium – so check the label and go for calcium enriched versions (around 120mg/100g)

  • Reply
    Claire
    May 31, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I read this too, and having recently gone dairy free have got all worried 🙁 I hate the alternatives except nut milk – will be making more almond milk in the future…

    • Reply
      Miranda
      June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm

      Hello Claire – Thanks for the comments – have you tried oatly?

  • Reply
    Kahud48
    August 13, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    What about coconut water (or milk)? I buy organic coconut milk and have been thinking about doing a 1/2 and 1/2 with distilled water to make up my own homemade milk drink.

    • Reply
      Miranda
      August 14, 2009 at 8:07 am

      I love coconut milk fantastic for so many recipes – def give the coconut porridge a go.

  • Reply
    Kahud48
    August 14, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks Miranda, that sounds very good! I am always on the look out for more breakfast meals 🙂

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