Arsenic in Foods

I've heard several new alarming reports about arsenic in foods. Should I be worried?

Consumer Reportsrecently found that nine out of 88 samples of apple and grape juices contained more arsenic than the government permits in drinking water. And research from the Dartmouth Children's Center found higher levels of arsenic in the urine of pregnant women who ate rice than in the urine of women who didn't. The Dartmouth researchers also found that children who consumed rice during the age of six to 17 had 14% more arsenic in their urine than non-rice eaters.

But should you be worried? That depends who you ask.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently sets no limit on the amount of arsenic allowed in foods, but consumer groups are urging the FDA to set standards for arsenic in rice, which absorbs more arsenic than other grains. For now, the FDA is being cautious, and doesn't currently recommend consumers change their rice-eating habits. So far, they have found no evidence suggesting it's unsafe to eat.

But the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assumes there is no "safe" level of exposure to the kind of arsenic found in food, so in my view, the less the better. I'd certainly avoid the nine juices found to be high in the Consumer Reports study, and I'd probably cut down on rice just to be safe.

But don't worry, there's a world of grains beyond rice! For nine tasty grains you should be eating but probably aren't, check out our Guide to Whole Grains slideshow!