Arsenic is an element in the Earth’s crust and is present in water, air and soil. Fertilizers and pesticides also contribute to levels. Arsenic exists in two forms, organic and inorganic. When encountered in the diet, inorganic arsenic is considered to be the more toxic of the two forms.
Rice has higher levels of inorganic arsenic than other foods, in part because as rice plants grow, the plant and grain tend to absorb arsenic from the environment more than other crops. Arsenic is not intentionally added to rice grain, and when present in the grain, cannot be completely removed.
The FDA has been monitoring the levels of arsenic in foods and in 2011, after new methods to differentiate the forms of arsenic became available, the agency expanded its testing to help better understand and manage possible arsenic-related risks associated with food consumption in the United States.
Based on its testing, the FDA on April 1, 2016 proposed an action level, or limit, of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal. This level, which is based on the FDA’s assessment of a large body of scientific information, seeks to reduce infant exposure to inorganic arsenic. Relative to body weight, rice intake for infants, primarily through infant rice cereal, is about three times greater than for adults.
In response to rising levels of toxic elements in soil used for agriculture and consumer products, Chemi Pharmaceutical has acquired a state of the art qualified GMP ICP-MS with digestive microwave that can trace all elements in the periodic table to a trillion of a gram. Chemi Pharmaceutical expects interest in such testing to grow as a result of increased regulation and public awareness of the effects of heavy metals on human health.
Source: FDA, April 1, 2016