ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, U.S. — AACC International (AACCI) said on Sept. 26 that it is responding to the recent media reports of arsenic and food and, more specifically, to a recent Consumer Reports article reporting high levels of arsenic in rice.
The authors of the article even went so far as to recommend cutting rice consumption in some instances. A Hot Topic Session, to be held at the AACCI Annual Meeting on October 3, 2013 in Hollywood, Florida, will address the Consumer Reports findings and discuss future directions in this critical area of grain and food safety.
Consumer Reports collected data on arsenic levels found in nearly 200 samples of rice found in some markets. Consumer Reports tested for both organic arsenic, considered to be safe for consumption, and inorganic arsenic, which can be toxic at high levels over long periods of time.  They found high levels of inorganic arsenic in some of the products, but also noted great variability. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, noted that FDA is also conducting a much more comprehensive study on levels of arsenic in foods.  She noted that, particularly due to the wide variation in levels found, they would wait for the analysis of their data in order to do a proper risk assessment and make sound consumer recommendations.  Their current recommendations are to continue to follow nutritional recommendations and to not change consumption of any foodstuff until the analysis is complete.
The AACCI Annual Meeting Hot Topic Session will feature key experts in the areas of food safety and cereal grains. They will address arsenic issues raised by the media and by research in the literature. The forum will have short presentations and be followed by a sharing of experience and expertise of attendees from industry, government and academia. There will be a sharing of recent gaps in analysis on arsenic in grains with suggestions on how to address these gaps with sound scientific research. Health risks for the public, especially children and vulnerable populations, will be part of the discussion from naturally occurring toxic metals including arsenic in grains and food will be addressed. Suggestions on how to best educate the consumer about these components of food and how to construct communication that will enable dietary choices that provide optimal nutrients while minimizing any potential risks.