RICE CAKES – Are they really safe to eat?

Rice cakes are quite nice to eat. I eat them and will continue to do so. However, I am now more  cautious as to which rice cake I purchase for reasons that I am going to explain.

We all like to please our children and rice cakes is one of those snacks that we buy for them. However, there are recent studies suggesting that rice cakes can be harmful to children. The reason? The cakes may contain a carcinogenic substance.

Rice Cakes

What does the officials say about rice cakes?

The National Food Agency in Sweden (NFAS) aims at examining hundreds of products a year. In one of their examination, they decided to investigate rice cakes. What they found was astonishing.

Rice cakes contain carcinogenic arsenic.

The NFAS issued a formal statements as soon as they confirmed the results of their investigation. The statement aimed at providing new guidelines and recommendations on rice.

The NAFS statement

NAFS decided that children were to avoid eating rice porridge. They also extended this recommendation to rice noodles and other popular rice based crisps.

To be more precise, they defined that children should not eat rice crisps etc. more than four times a week. But the statement said that children must stay away from rice cakes.

Emma Halldin Ankarberg, a toxicologist at the NFA, said “We already knew that rice contains arsenic. What we know now is that some products on the market contains fairly high levels of it. Among other things, we have now advised against children under six eating rice cakes. For everyone else, rice cakes are OK in moderation, but it depends on the amount of rice products consumed overall”.

The difficult bit is that the statement mentioned we all needed to cut on our rice intake. It defined that adults who enjoy enjoy eating rice more than 7 times a week must stop doing so.

Halldin Ankarberg added that rice intake must be cut with immediate effect. Especially if you eat more than the recommended doses of rice aforementioned.

What rice products to avoid?

Many rice products must be avoided if you can or reduce in consumption. Popular rice crispies, boots baby rice cakes and Organix First Wholegrain Baby Rice are some of the products that are listed as having higher than usual arsenic concentration.

Rice and Arsenic

We all know that Arsenic is a strong carcinogen. The dangers  of this substance are quite high. It is one of the culprit behind the creation of tumors in the skin. It is also responsible for lungs tumors, bladder, liver, kidneys and prostate cancer.

The issue that are associated with arsenic (in its inorganic form – meaning man created) are:

  • Higher risk to cardiovascular disease
  • Liver damage
  • Long lasting chronic cough
  • Development of diabetes
  • Neurological and brain effects

What is arsenic and what are the types?

Arsenic is scientifically known as a toxic trace element. It is normally denoted by the symbol As.

It is rarely found on its own. Arsenic likes to bound itself with other elements. We can regroup these in two main categories:

  1. Organic arsenic: you can find it in plants and animal tissues. Even in our tissues.
  2. Inorganic arsenic: You find this in rocks and soil or dissolved in water. This is the worse arsenic you can find as it is highly toxic.

Unfortunately, both forms are present in our daily environment and there is nothing you can do about this. Regrettably, levels of arsenic have increased in recent years due to the increase in pollution.

What you need to know is that rice has a property that allows it to accumulate a significant amount of inorganic arsenic. So that is why you sometime find high concentration of arsenic in rice food and its derivative.

Should you be worried about arsenic?

Yes. But you can attenuate this by taking simple measures. You can reduce arsenic in rice if you cook it in non-arsenic type water. It is quite hard to find out if you have arsenic in your water stream.

However, if you are connected to the mains water supply, then the local council should be able to provide you with this information. They are by law force to test the water and define any impurities within it.

Just ask you council, and they shall be able to help you with this.

Conclusion

Arsenic in rice is of high concern for thousands and millions of people. We all know that a large percentage of the global population rely on rice intake.

This is especially true in Asia where rice is the main source of food. As such millions are at risk of contracting arsenic related health issues

Nevertheless, rice eaten in moderation should not be an issue and must be part of a healthy diet. What is important to note is that arsenic cooking method could be used to reduce its effect.

If you have clean water, which does not hold arsenic, then you can reduce the level of this poison during cooking time. First wash your rice with clean water. Then cook the rice and make sure you empty the remaining water from the rice at the end of the cooking. Finally wash the cooked rice.

 

The other way is to find rice that has been produced in non polluted areas such as rice produced in high up mountains. These areas have no much pollution, and therefore have lower level of arsenic.

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See you soon in another Omigy post.

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