Reader question… “I am wondering how you and your readers are dealing with the rice and arsenic problem. My husband and I have a baby and toddlers and we eat rice products and brown rice quite a bit because I always thought they were healthy. I’m wondering how concerned about this I should be and should we stop eating rice.” –Tiffani S.

You have probably already seen the Consumer Reports recommendation that babies eat no more than an average of one serving of infant rice cereal per day, and that their diet should include cereals made from wheat, oatmeal, or corn grits because these grains contain lower levels of inorganic arsenic.

Consumer Reports also raises concerns about ready-to-eat cereals and rice drinks, especially for young children and pregnant women, and has called for limiting brown rice consumption to less than a cup of cooked rice for children and about one and a half cups of cooked rice for adults PER WEEK.

As you probably know, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is “not recommending changes by consumers regarding their consumption of rice and rice products.” Their advice is to “eat a balanced diet including a wide variety of grains, not only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food.” Isn’t this the same answer they give to every food scare question?

Chipmunks took the tag… anybody know the name for this sedum?

I think most people find themselves with the same question of what to do. Brown rice was a staple in our diet too, and I’m not happy to find out that the brand of rice we were eating was grown in the South where the arsenic levels are the highest. Fortunately, the way we always thoroughly rinsed the rice and cooked it in plenty of water (like pasta) MAY have reduced the arsenic levels by almost forty-five percent, but the experts can’t agree on this. If you continue to eat rice, it would probably be a good idea to follow the Consumer Reports recommendation to rinse the rice well and cook it in a large quantity of water.

Until more information is available, I don’t think we will be eating as much rice. We like barley and quinoa, and now would probably be a good time for us to become better acquainted with a few other rice alternatives.

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I *am* concerned. I have 3 girls under 5 and I’ve been working hard to have them like healthy foods – brown rice being one. When I first heard about the Consumer Reports conclusions I didn’t make any changes right away but I’m beginning to believe that I should. I wish we could trust the experts more. I want to do right by my kids’ diet and the hard part is not knowing what that is anymore.

Bob M.

Am I the only one noticing that organics and a more natural diet is being attacked by the GMO crowd more and more? I wonder if they’re trying to scare people about possible problems with organic foods so then the GM stuff won’t seem so bad. Just a thought. Thanks for writing about this subject.


I agree with Bob M. Also, the number of vegans/vegetarians, not to mention the Asian and Latino communities, that have consumed tons of rice over the years, convince me that they will soon “discover” that rice naturally contains something that prevents the body from absorbing the arsenic. We are still eating it with gusto!

Barbara R.

This is the first I’ve heard of it. I’m not sure yet what we will do, especially as we have an awful lot of rice on hand. We do try to stick with organics, but not all of our rice is. I’m likely to take Bob and N.C.’s path when it comes down to it.


I had not heard about this, either. I am gluten free, so there is a lot of rice in my house, not just in regular form but also as flour for cooking and in gluten free breads and crackers. Eliminating rice in my diet would take a diet already difficult to follow to a new level. It is certainly frustrating that every time one turns around there is a new food scare.


We’re an Asian family who eats a lot of rice. We eat jasmine rice from Thailand, though. Low amounts of arsenic. Also making sure to wash rice thoroughly is important … water in, swish rice around, water out, repeat until water is clear.


I sent a sample to the lab in Augusta and paid $50 for them to test it. The test showed that the rice I have been eating is safe with only a trace of arsenic way below what would be dangerous. Since I can no longer stand for long in the kitchen, I have been using Minute Rice, brown. I wonder if the parboiling that this product (not as good as just plain brown rice and not organic) goes through flushes out much of the arsenic. I eat black beans and rice a lot and was worried. I read the report on rice and am really disgusted about how our soil has been depleted and poisoned. We grow organically but most of our neighbors don’t. Too many rely on pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc. and this is having an effect on everything. I despair for my grandchildren and their ability to get clean water and food.