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Lead in Rice

by Sandy Todd Webster on May 23, 2013

Food for Thought

If a staple in your diet is imported rice, pay attention to labels the next time you buy it. Researchers from Monmouth University, in West Long Branch, New Jersey, recently presented an analysis showing that some rice imported to the U.S. had lead levels higher than those considered safe by the USDA.

Rice from Taiwan and China had the highest levels of lead, but rice from the Czech Republic, Bhutan, Italy, India and Thailand also contained high amounts of lead, said Tsanangurayi Tongesayi, PhD, associate professor of chemistry, who headed the study. While this is cause for concern, especially since the highest concentrations of lead were found in baby food, Tongesayi and colleagues also pointed out that imports account for just 7% of the rice consumed in the US. However, imports of rice and rice flour are increasing—they have risen by more than 200% since 1999—and rice is the staple food for 3 billion people worldwide, he added.

Tongesayi, who reported the findings at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, cautioned that children and Asian adults were at greatest risk. “Such findings present a situation that is particularly worrisome given that infants and children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead poisoning,” he 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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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.