From the 28th September 2012 article by David Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, at US News and World Report
Arsenic comes in two forms, organic and inorganic. Organic arsenic, which is present in foods in very small amounts, is probably non-toxic, and may even be an essential trace element. Some of the arsenic measured in foods is of this variety. The use of arsenic in insecticides is now limited to organic arsenic.
Inorganic arsenic is certainly a toxin, as was made famous in the movie, Arsenic and Old Lace. It is the primary variety released from rocks into water, and the main concern for human health. There is some potential for short-term toxic reactions to arsenic, but the major concern is an increase in cancer risk.
Consumer Reports did not examine health outcomes, just arsenic levels in rice-containing products. The principal findings were that arsenic levels were high enough in rice and rice products to be a cause for concern among experts. The report also noted that rice, overall, provides a significant portion of total inorganic arsenic to diets, perhaps as much as half. Recommendations included eating less rice; eating a variety of grains instead of rice preferentially; draining water off when rice is cooked at home; and, most importantly, an establishment of safe levels by the Food and Drug Administration. These exist for water, but not food…
although more rice intake seems to mean more arsenic exposure, populations with the highest arsenic intake actually have lower, not higher, rates of cancer than ours in the U.S….
- Arsenic in rice: New report finds ‘worrisome levels’ (whas11.com)
- Oh, Baby: There May Be Arsenic in Your Formula (healthland.time.com)
- Study: Arsenic hidden in baby forumula (boston.com)
- Arsenic found in infant formula, cereal bars (cbsnews.com)
- Arsenic and Infant Formula, What you should know. (mommybrainreports.com)
- Rice-Sweetened Baby Formula May Contain Arsenic (nlm.nih.gov)
- Rice products may be source of high arsenic levels: Study (vancouversun.com)
- Organic, baby foods high in arsenic content – Zee News (zeenews.india.com)
Chicken feed is sometimes supplemented with roxarsone, an arsenic-containing compound that’s meant to control parasites and promote weight gain. Most of the arsenic is excreted by the chickens and gets mixed in with sawdust and other litter materials in poultry houses. When this litter is cleaned from the poultry houses, farmers use it to fertilize their crops, explained the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.