Arsenic in rice milk exceeds EU and US drinking water standards

Mar 13, 2008
Arsenic in rice milk exceeds EU and US drinking water standards

Commercial rice milk contains levels of arsenic – a chronic human carcinogen – up to three times higher than EU and US drinking water standards, say researchers in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Environmental Monitoring.

Rice milk is made commercially as an alternative to animal-derived milk such as cows' milk. It is aimed those who are lactose intolerant, are on a macrobiotic diet or are vegetarian/vegan. It lacks the proteins, vitamins and minerals that cows' milk provides, so commercial rice milk is often fortified with these additives.

The researchers from the University of Aberdeen, UK, bought different brands and varieties of rice milk, including organic, non-organic and flavoured, from local supermarkets. They also made "home-made' rice milk, from rice grown in different parts of the world, with a commercially-available machine.

They showed that of four brands of commercial rice milk tested, all exceeded the EU total arsenic standard of 10 µg l-1 – some by as much as three times. Eighty per cent of samples also failed to meet the US standard of 10 µg l-1 inorganic arsenic.

Of the samples of 'home-made' rice milk made by the researchers, all met US standards and only one failed to meet EU standards.

It is questionable, the researchers say, if rice milk counts as a water substitute – where it would be regulated by these directives – or as a food. But they believe that in this case the distinction between the two should not be made. "Whether rice milk is a food or a drink is a moot point," the researchers say in the paper. "…if rice milk is a dietary constituent on a regular basis, then chronic arsenic exposure, at levels deemed unsafe under the EU water drinking directive, will occur."

The authors also note that currently no maximum permissible concentration (MPC) for arsenic in food has been set by the Commission of European Communities – meaning arsenic levels in food are effectively unregulated in Europe and elsewhere. "Given that arsenic in its inorganic form … is a chronic human carcinogen, it is surprising that MPCs have not been set for this element," they say.

Original advance article: Meharg et al, J. Environ. Monit., 2008, DOI: 10.1039/b800981c

Source: University of Aberdeen

Explore further: Video: "Speleophysicist" uses physics to study the underground flow of water

Related Stories

Boron-based atomic clusters mimic rare-earth metals

32 minutes ago

Rare Earth elements, found in the f-block of the periodic table, have particular magnetic and optical properties that make them valuable commodities. This has been particularly true over the last thirty years ...

Roadkill hot spots identified in California

52 minutes ago

An interactive map shows how California's state highway system is strewn with roadkill "hot spots," which are identified in a newly released report by the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Da ...

Taiwan factory workers win $18 mn over cancer deaths

1 hour ago

Workers from a factory in Taiwan which leeched toxic chemicals they say resulted in 200 deaths from cancer and more than 1,000 other cases of the disease won a Tw$564.45 million ($18 million) payout from US electronics company ...

Recommended for you

China's struggle for water security

6 hours ago

Way back in 1999, before he became China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao warned that water scarcity posed one of the greatest threats to the "survival of the nation".

Canada revises upward CO2 emission data since 1990

6 hours ago

Canada revised its greenhouse gas emission data from 1990 to 2013 in a report Friday, showing it had higher carbon dioxide discharges each year, and a doubling of emissions from its oil sands.

Climate censorship gains steam in red states

20 hours ago

While plenty of people found humor in the recent news that officials in Florida and Wisconsin are censoring state workers' ability to talk about, much less work on, climate change, other states are not necessarily laughing. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Argiod
2.5 / 5 (2) Mar 14, 2008
Gee, with food producers like this, who needs terrorists?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.