Scientist have detected high levels of lead in rice imported from certain countries. This poses a substantial health risk for infants and children who are sensitive to the effect of lead. The research is scheduled to be presented at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in April, and was presented in a report. The research was part of a symposium titled “Food and Its Environment: What Is In What We Eat?”
Dr. Tongesayi, who led the rice analysis of rice imported from Asia, Europe and South America, pointed out that imports account for only 7 percent of the rice consumed in the United States. The import of rice and rice flour are increasing ― by more than 200 percent since 1999 ― and rice is the staple food for 3 billion people worldwide, he added.
“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.”
Tongesayi’s team, determined that levels of lead in rice imported into the United States ranges 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.
“Food and Its Environment: What Is In What We Eat?”