Lead in Rice Study Retracted, Truth Revealed

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On April 11, 2013, Dr. Tsananagurayi Tongesayi of Monmouth University presented a study at the American Chemical Society announcing that "rice from AsiaEurope and South America had 20-60 times higher toxic levels of lead than is allowed by the Food & Drug Administration."  The news caused an international uproar, as breaking news outlets from BBC to TIME magazine issued reports.  On April 19th, Dr. Tongesayi admitted he was having an "issue" with his measuring instruments and recalled his paper. Consumers remain unaware of the flawed nature of the study.  World rice expert, David Janow, sets the record straight to quell consumers' fears about rice.

Since 2002, David Janow has set the standards for rice processing. He is a sought-after expert by the FDA and USDA, and is a founding member of the World Rice Alliance, providing the food industry with clean sources of rice. He notes:

  • Rice, like other vegetables, fruits, and grains is a translocator grown in water, soaking up whatever is in the environment whether naturally occurring or due to pollution. Manufacturers are required to test, especially if sold in California under Proposition 65's guidelines.
  • There are areas throughout the world where industrial contamination has affected the soil and everything that grows from it can be infested with heavy metals. The Hunan Province of China, where rice is grown, is extremely polluted. However,China is a 3.7 million square mile country with rice fields all over, far away from polluted areas. 
  • Food companies know that lead is an inherent challenge with rice and are careful to source from the most pristine fields and change sources if tests show new levels. They create technology to remove additional heavy metals. Rely on the World Rice Alliance for clean sources.
  • Most rice ingredients are extracted with a highly noxious gasoline product called "hexane." Since 2005, natural enzyme methods have been used by some companies; look for them when buying food products.
  • In 2012 when a Dartmouth study demonized arsenic in rice, researchers failed to convey the difference between inorganic and organic arsenic, the latter is naturally occurring, posing no known health risk. The study also measured levels in finished products which doesn't single out rice as the problem.

"The absorption of lead in translators has always been a challenge.  While there are polluted places in the world where rice fields exist, the standards and technologies to ensure excellent products can be trusted. We recently created a technology which ensures that 50-70% of heavy metal residue can be removed. Blanket statements about not trusting "rice from Asia;" a continent that makes up 8.7% of the earth's surface, is not a responsible scientific statement."