Today, we found out about a Consumer Reports study (see video below) showing dangerously high levels of arsenic in rice grown in the U.S. It seems that the problem is limited to rice grown in the Southeastern states. Brown rice from those places is much higher in arsenic than white rice, which has had the hull removed. Basmati and other varieties of rice grown in California, India, and Pakistan do not pose the same risk. Also, other grains like quinoa, millet, and amaranth do not appear to be affected.
After learning of Consumer Reports' findings on arsenic levels in rice, I contacted Lundberg Farms, one of the leading producers of organic rice products. Their response is below. If you buy their packaged rice in 1-, 2-, or 12-lb bags, you will not be exposed to any of the potentially tainted rice from Southern farms. However, their processed rice products may contain some of the questionable rice. I would recommend staying away from those products, as well as their wild rice and their 25-lb bags of Basmati, Jasmine, and long grain rice. Some stores, like Whole Foods and Sprouts, carry Lundberg rice in their bulk foods section. I will find out tomorrow what risk is associated with those products and I will update my blog when I hear back. In the meantime, you can read the Lundberg Farms response to my email here:
"Thank you for your interest in our products. The majority of the rice used in our products comes from California. All of the rice in our 1 pound, 2 pound and 12 pound packaged rice, with the exception of wild rice, comes from California. In addition, our rice bowls, 25 pound bags labeled as “California rice”, roasted brown rice couscous, risotto, and rice cakes contain exclusively California rice.
"Occasionally, when the available rice supply in California is not sufficient to meet the demand, we work with our rice grower and processor partners located in the Southern United States. This generally happens when we have challenging growing conditions that reduce yields in the field, or when demand grows substantially faster than we anticipate. Currently, the products we sell that may utilize rice from other US rice growing regions are: 25 pound bags of American Basmati (white and brown), 25 pound bags of American Jasmine (white and brown), and 25 pound bags of Long Grain (white and brown), rice syrup, rice chips, and rice pasta. Additionally, much of our wild rice comes from growers in Minnesota.
"We do test our rice for arsenic and are sharing the results on our website. I will provide two links that will answer your questions:
· http://www.lundberg.com/info/arsenic-in-food/ this link takes you to our arsenic in food section
· http://www.lundberg.com/info/arsenic-in-food/ this link takes you directly to our arsenic testing results page
"Please feel free to contact us if you have additional questions after reviewing the information we share."