Arsenic in Gluten-Free Foods: How Worried Should You Be?

In the past few months, much has been made of the presence of trace amounts of arsenic in rice. In truth, many different foods absorb tiny amounts of arsenic from the soil they grow in, but rice does it more readily. For people who follow a gluten-free diet, rice-based foods are a popular choice to replace wheat products. With all of the media buzz, should you be worried? The Today Show recently explored this issue.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration tested more than 1,300 samples of rice and rice products in the last year and found trace amounts of arsenic ranging from 0.1 micrograms to 7.2 micrograms per serving based on each product’s recommended serving size. Documenting the presence of arsenic in these products was simply a first step for the FDA. They are currently reviewing the data to assess any long-term risk that might cause them to modify or issue new product safety recommendations.

But, the important take-away from the FDA’s current evaluation is that rice can safely be consumed as part of a varied diet — by everyone, including infants, children, and pregnant women. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend that parents feed infants and toddlers a variety of grains, including rice cereal.

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