Today New Scientist reported that consumer tests on 200 rice products have shown that 24 products on sale on supermarket shelves across the country are contaminated with arsenic to levels more than 5 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per serving.
Inorganic arsenic is found in igneous and sedimentary rock and leaches into the ground water, it is more dangerous than organic arsenic that passes easily though the body with little absorption taking place. Inorganic arsenic is cumulative and is far more readily absorbed than organic arsenic.
The FDA repeated the tests in their own labs and came to the same conclusions.
Rice is prone to the accumulation of arsenic due to the water-logged, low oxygen environment it is grown in. Silica present in the soil, something rice requires to grow well, and arsenic appear similar to the rice plant so they soak up as much of it as they can, something easily done in a paddy field. These fields are often terraced on the side of steep hills made of igneous and sedimentary rock, many more are found in valleys where run off from the surrounding mountains keeps the fields knee deep in water.
Although the FDA have limits to the amount of arsenic that is allowed in drinking water there is no regulation about the amount allowed in food. After further tests which are set to be conducted that may well change. In fact only China has regulations regarding the amount of arsenic allowed in food. That limit is set at 150 ppb (parts per billion)
Brian Jackson, an environmental analytical chemist from Dartmouth Collage New Hampshire says that not all of this arsenic is in a form that can be absorbed by the body, and although arsenic is a known carcinogenic the levels described should not be a problem as long as it is not ingested on a daily basis.
Arsenic cannot be destroyed, the cooking process does not remove it from food, neither does soaking or washing the contaminated product.
Arsenic, the one time favourite of poisoners kills quickly when ingested in large doses, with symptoms occurring in as little as 30 minutes. Arsenic is cumulative, it builds up in the body tissues and can even be detected years after death by taking a sample of hair from the corpse.
The initial stage of arsenic poisoning would show as confusion and headaches with occasional vomiting. As the arsenic levels build the early symptoms worsen and haematuria (blood in the urine) would become noticeable. There will be more hair in the hairbrush each morning as hair loss increases. Non-specific stomach pains will start increasing in severity as the arsenic levels in the body increase and seizures will occur. The onset of kidney failure and liver disease mark the beginning of the end for the sufferer and coma and death will follow in quick succession if the ingestion of arsenic continues.
The World Health Organisation recommends that the highest level of arsenic in drinking water should be no greater than 0.01mg per litre of water. (10 ppb). Its interesting then to note that the average arsenic level in rice grown in the USA is 260ppb and this is allowed. Considering the carcinogenic nature of arsenic is this somehow connected with the huge surge in cancers seen in the first world over the last 30 years?
What about other products made with rice, cereal and grain bars, breakfast cereal, rice flour, meal replacement products and a whole host of gluten free products made with rice instead of wheat, are we to assume that they are also contaminated?
These findings with have major ramifications for anyone who eats rice on a regular basis and may affect those who store rice against future hard times in a significant manner. Rice along with beans and pulses such as lentils and split peas are amongst the mainstays of the prepper’s pantry and will form a large part of their diet when the stores are empty or they can no longer afford to buy food as they do now.
” Most people are not eating the same diet everyday”Brian Jackson is quoted as saying.
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Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.