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There's way more arsenic in your rice than you may realize

Justina Huddleston is an editor and the head writer for TDmonthly Magazine. She has been a freelance writer for several years, though her real passion is cooking. You can see the recipes she creates on her vegan food blog, A Life of Litt...

Researchers now recommend that children have rice only twice a month due to arsenic

Consumer Reports has come to a troubling conclusion after analyzing FDA data on foods containing rice.

After looking at the data collected for over 656 foods containing rice, the Consumer Reports researchers have determined that there are noticeable levels of inorganic arsenic present in these foods. Long-term exposure to this substance is known to cause different types of cancer, including skin, bladder and lung cancers.

Researchers now recommend that children have rice only twice a month due to arsenic

Photo credit: Consumer Reports

Most troublingly, foods like rice cereal, which is often used when introducing children to solid food, and rice cakes, a favorite snack for kids, contain high levels of arsenic and should be given to children only once a week.

If you've been eating brown rice instead of white to try to stay healthy, there's more bad news. Brown rice contains up to 80 percent more arsenic than white rice of the same variety.

So what type of rice is still safe? The Consumer Reports study found that white basmati rice from California has the least inorganic arsenic, while rices from Texas are highest in arsenic. It also recommends switching from rice to low-arsenic grains like quinoa, buckwheat and millet.

But if you've gotta have your rice, then techniques like rinsing rice thoroughly twice before cooking and cooking it using a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup rice (then draining the cooked rice) can help lower the levels of arsenic ingested. You can learn more about Consumer Reports' recommendations here.

There is no federal limit for the amount of arsenic that can be present in rice and rice products, but the FDA is in the process of assessing the situation.

In the meantime, the USA Rice Federation is fighting claims that arsenic levels in rice may be dangerous. "Studies show that including white or brown rice in the diet provides measureable health benefits that outweigh the potential risks associated with exposure to trace levels of arsenic," the federation said in a statement. But the researchers at Consumer Reports disagree.

What do you think? Will you be cutting back on rice consumption in your family? Or do you think it's best to wait for the FDA to make a decision?

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