FDA urged to set standards for arsenic in rice

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WASHINGTON — Consumer groups are pressuring the Food and Drug Administration to set federal guidance on allowable levels of arsenic in rice, prompting the agency to study the issue and consider possible new standards.

So far, FDA officials say they have found no evidence that suggests rice is unsafe to eat. The agency is in the middle of conducting a study of 1,200 samples of grocery-store rice products to measure arsenic levels.

Arsenic is thought to be found in rice in higher levels than most other foods because it is grown in water on the ground, optimal conditions for the contaminant to be absorbed in the rice. There are no federal standards for how much arsenic is allowed in food.

Arsenic is naturally present in two forms, organic and inorganic. How much organic and inorganic arsenic rice eaters are consuming, and whether those levels are dangerous, still remain to be seen.

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