It's old news, but it keeps making headlines. If not in newspapers and magazines, it's in the subject line of discussion groups including mine - K9Kitchen, and it's rare for a day to go by that someone doesn't email me privately about it. There's arsenic in rice, so how did it get there, how worried should we be, and what can we do about it?
Rice grown in the U.S., especially the southeast states contains a heavier load of arsenic. Why? Soils used to grow cotton were treated with aresnic (calcium arsenate) dust to keep bugs (think boll weevils) away from the crops, and it just so happens that rice absorbs arsenic at a higher rate than most plants. Organically grown rice is no different, so don't feel overly confident that it's any healthier to ingest. That said, the FDA will be doing more sampling and testing during 2013 and hopes to have some answers for us. Right now, the amount of arsenic that would be safe to ingest is unknown. If you're thinking that the amount needs to be zero, think again. Arsenic is in soil, water, et al. It's a natural element and we're exposed to it every day. So, in reality,the safety issue isn't so much about arsenic itself as being able to put a safety limit on it.
What we do know is that arsenic can be a carcinogen, and that's what has so many people in a panic. The truth is that it's too early to know how worried we should be. Rice happened to be tested, but what if the FDA tests broccoli, carrots, quinoa (insert a food here) and finds a bigger problem next week? Panic isn't going to get us anywhere. Facts can help, though. This report shows us the results of Consumer Reports rice and rice products. It appears that Basmati rice from India is a safer choice than most. To decrease the arsenic level you or your dog ingest, soak rice overnight. Discard the water. Add plenty of water as you would for boiling pasta. That is, much more water than you'd usually use to boil rice. Once cooked, drain and rinse.
The good news is that a healthy liver manages to filter a lot of things out of the body, and arsenic is one of them, although a build-up is certainly possible, or we would never hear of arsenic poisoning. B vitamins in general, and B-12 more specifically are important factors in this. Maybe now is a good time to remind you that our vitamin B compound is on sale for $1 off per bottle.