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Arsenic in Rice Milk
June 2, 2009
Arsenic in Rice Milk

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Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Tuesday, 02 June 2009 00:00

Many health advocates recommend and/or use non-dairy beverages like rice and/or soy milk as a substitute for dairy milk.   While these products may be a better alternative than dairy milks, these products are not health foods and if included in ones diet, they should be used as a condiment and contribute very little to the total caloric intake of ones day. They are not necessary and can be avoided completely if one wanted to. 

Recently, rice milk has been in the news because there has been reports of arsenic being found in rice milk. The arsenic issue has been around for a few years and is due to chemicals used in the growing of the rice. You can read more about it below.

In addition, if one wanted to use rice milk, it is very easy to  make their own (which may be the best choice if it is used) and you can find recipes on how to do this in many recipe books and online.

In Health 

U.K. Agency Releases Research on Arsenic in Rice Milk 
Monday May 25, 2009 

The United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (akin to the FDA here in the United States) just published research regarding arsenic levels in rice drinks. As a result, they’ve issued the following advice regarding toddlers: 

“As a precaution, toddlers and young children between 1 and 4.5 years old should not have rice 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.” 

According to the recent study, arsenic was found in all 60 samples tested, but the levels found were below legal limits. Those limits were set in the 1950s, however, before it was known that the inorganic form of arsenic can cause cancer. While there are low levels of arsenic in many foods and all around us, the inorganic type is found in higher levels in rice drinks, thus the cause for concern. There are also no uniform regulations for arsenic levels in the European Union but a risk assessment coming out this September may result in the development of EU-wide regulations. 

Closer to home, no warnings have been issued regarding rice milk and arsenic levels by the FDA or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency thus far.

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