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Rice: Staple food may not always be safe

Rice is a staple food in many regions of the world and it is available in many different varieties. Whether whole grain, round grain or long grain rice, all varieties have one thing in common: the way they are grown.

Rice is mainly grown in fields that are completely under water. As a result, the inorganic arsenic which is naturally found in the soil, can accumulate in the outer layers of the plant. Sewage sludge and phosphate fertilizers additionally pollute the groundwater with arsenic.

Regular tests give the manufacturer and finally the consumer an insight into the products. In such a test, arsenic was detected in several rice varieties.

Arsenic is a semi-metal that occurs naturally in the soil and is therefore absorbed by rice plants. According to a statement from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, inorganic arsenic can be carcinogenic. For this reason, there are legally defined limits for arsenic contamination in rice products that must not be exceeded.

According to Regulation (EU) 2015/1006, the following maximum values for inorganic arsenic are valid:

  • Milled rice, not parboiled: 0,20 mg/kg
  • Parboiled rice and peeled rice: 0,25 mg/kg


Other residues in rice products


In some varieties, the heavy metal cadmium, pesticides and mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOSH/MOAH) were also detected, sometimes in increased amounts.

Cadmium is present in small quantities in the earth’s crust. If the soil becomes acidic, the plant absorbs more of the pollutant. But it can also enter food through animal feed. A permanently excessive intake of cadmium can lead to kidney damage.

In the rice varieties tested, the pesticide deltamethrin was mainly detected. This substance is toxic for bees and is reinforced by the substance piperonyl butoxide, which was also detected.

Mineral oils can also be carcinogenic in various compounds. Mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOSH/MOAH) can enter food in various ways, such as through the packaging material or the manufacturing process, and can have mutagenic and carcinogenic effects. It is suspected that MOAH enters the rice grains via the jute bags. Cardboard packaging and printing inks based on mineral oil are also “suspected”.


bilacon supports you in offering a safe product


Performing instrumental analyses, bilacon tests rice for pesticides, heavy metals and mineral oils, among other things, and supports you in offering a safe product.


Would you like to learn more about our services, or do you have any further questions?

Our expert will be happy to help you.

Nicole Schröer
+49 30 206 038 133


Source: Ökotest

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