High Levels of Lead Found in Rice Imported From China, Taiwan

April 12, 2013

2 Min Read
High Levels of Lead Found in Rice Imported From China, Taiwan

NEW ORLEANSNew research presented at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society found rice imported from certain countriesmost reportedly Taiwan and Chinacontains high levels of lead that could pose health risks, particularly for infants and children and adults of Asian heritage who consume large amounts of rice.

Researchers at Monmouth University found that levels of lead in rice imported into the United States ranged from 6 to 12 milligrams/kilogram. From those numbers, they calculated the daily exposure levels for various populations and then made comparisons with the FDA's PTTI levels for lead. They detected the highest amounts of lead in rice from Taiwan and China. Samples from the Czech Republic, Bhutan, Italy, India and Thailand had significantly high levels of lead as well. Analysis of rice samples from Pakistan, Brazil and other countries were still underway.

Tsanangurayi Tongesayi, Ph.D., who led the analysis of rice imported from Asia, Europe and South America, noted that the United States is a major producer and exporter of rice and imports account for only 7% of the rice consumed in the United States. However, imports of rice and rice flour are increasingby more than 200% since 1999and rice is the staple food for 3 billion people worldwide.

"Such findings present a situation that is particularly worrisome given that infants and children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead poisoning," Tongesayi said. "For infants and children, the daily exposure levels from eating the rice products analyzed in this study would be 30-60 times higher than the FDA's provisional total tolerable intake (PTTI) levels. Asians consume more rice, and for these infants and children, exposures would be 60-120 times higher. For adults, the daily exposure levels were 20-40 times higher than the PTTI levels."

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