This infomation was sent by Kallo on being asked by Scoff Quaff to comment on Arsenic in rice before the November 11th Show on this subject – http://www.kallo.com/faqs/
Arsenic – further information
Regarding recent media coverage about arsenic levels in rice based foods; we want to reassure you that there is no cause for concern about the safety of any of our foods. The safety of our food products is of paramount importance to Wessanen UK and whilst all our rice products comply with current arsenic regulation we will continue to follow the Food Standards Agency’s advice. We are working closely with the Food and Drink Federation and our suppliers to ensure all of our products comply with the new limits due in July 2015.
What is arsenic?
Arsenic is a chemical element which occurs widely in the environment in rocks and soil, in both sea and fresh water, and hence in almost all plant and animal tissues. Arsenic can occur in both organic and inorganic forms. Compared to organic arsenic, inorganic arsenic is of more concern if consumed regularly at high levels over long periods of time.
Why does arsenic contamination in food occur?
Arsenic contamination occurs both naturally (e.g. from soil and water) and from industrial processes such as mining and smelting of metals. Because arsenic is widespread in the environment, it occurs naturally at low levels in a wide range of foods.
Do Kallo rice products contain arsenic?
Arsenic is a natural metal which occurs widely in the environment in almost all plant and animal tissues and is absorbed by rice during growth. We try to minimise the amount in our products by using rice which had the lowest possible exposure to arsenic. There are tiny amounts of it almost everywhere which makes it impossible to avoid. At Wessanen UK we are working closely with the Food and Drink Federation and our suppliers to ensure all our products comply with the new limits due in July 2015.
Should I be concerned about arsenic in Kallo Foods rice products?
We want to reassure you that there is no cause for concern about the safety of any of our foods. The safety of our food products is of paramount importance and we can assure you that our test results, conducted by European Accredited Laboratories confirm that all of our rice products comply with current arsenic regulation. There is proposed legislation that is calling for a limit on inorganic arsenic in rice and rice products. These proposals are under review and may change again before they become law.
Why is there arsenic in food and rice based foods in particular?
Arsenic is naturally present in many foods, including grains, fruits and vegetables where it is absorbed from the soil and water. While many crops don’t readily take up much arsenic from the ground, rice is more susceptible to absorbing arsenic than other cereals due to the way it’s grown.
Are people consuming too much arsenic through food?
In October 2009, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an opinion on arsenic which concluded that the estimated dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic for average and high level consumers in Europe should be reduced. In March 2014, EFSA reviewed dietary exposure and concluded that it was lower than that published in the 2009 opinion, however the EU Commission is continuing to seek a reduction in exposure through the setting of maximum limits, for example for arsenic in rice.
What are regulators doing to set limits which protect consumer health and are workable for industry?
The European Commission is currently discussing proposed maximum limits for inorganic arsenic in rice with EU Member States. At this stage it appears likely that limits may be set for brown rice, polished rice and rice products, particularly those consumed by young children. This dialogue will ensure that consumer health is protected through the establishment of limits that are workable and will not restrict the availability of rice.
Why are limits being set for arsenic in rice specifically?
Rice is known to concentrate more inorganic arsenic compared to other cereals. There is also increasing scientific evidence that traditional flooding of rice paddies causes anaerobic conditions, which can increase the availability of arsenic in the soil. The levels of inorganic arsenic found in rice vary considerably and rice remains an important contributor to a balanced and healthy diet.
What is Kallo Foods doing in terms of arsenic saftey?
The safety of our food products is of paramount importance to Wessanen UK. Whilst all our rice products comply with current arsenic regulation and many with the new proposed limits, we will continue to follow the Food Standards Agency’s advice. We are working closely with the Food and Drink Federation and our suppliers to ensure all our products comply to the new limits due in July 2015.
Does Kallo Foods comply with the new proposed arsenic limits?
We are confident that all our products will comply with the new limits – many of them do already. We will continue to follow the Food Standards Agency’s advice and once the new limits have been approved by the European Commission we will ensure all our products comply.
Is arsenic dangerous for certain groups?
The 2009 EFSA opinion concluded that the estimated dietary exposures of children was higher than those of adults, due to the greater food consumption relative to their body weight, however this does not necessarily indicate that children are at greater risk because the effects are due to long term exposure.
What about limits for arsenic for babies and children?
The 2009 EFSA opinion concluded that the estimated dietary exposures of children was higher than those of adults, due to the greater food consumption relative to their body weight, however this does not necessarily indicate that children are at greater risk because the effects are due to long term exposure. Kallo Foods products are marketed and sold to adults and therefore we are not required to meet baby limits we will however continue to follow the Food Standards Agency’s advice. We want to reassure you that there is no cause for concern on any of our rice products and support advice from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to eat a well-balanced diet, with no excess of any one food, for good nutrition.
Why is there a difference in arsenic levels between brown or wholegrain rice and white rice?
Brown or wholegrain rice has higher concentrations of arsenic because it concentrates in the part of the grain called the germ which is removed to make white rice.
What is the difference between inorganic arsenic, organic arsenic and total arsenic?
When the term organic is used in this context it is referring to the chemical elements present and is completely different from when we talk about organic food and drink. Atoms of arsenic bond with other elements to form molecules. If carbon is one of those elements then the compound created is organic. If there is no carbon present it is deemed an “inorganic” compound. Together they are referred to as “total arsenic”. The inorganic forms of arsenic are the ones that have been more closely associated with long-term health effects but so far most of the data that is collected are reported as total arsenic.
What’s inorganic got to do with organic foods?
There is no relationship at all between the term “inorganic arsenic” and the organic food movement. Because arsenic is naturally found in the soil and water, it is absorbed by plants regardless of whether they are grown under conventional or organic farming practices.
Why were the tested levels advertised in the Daily Mail far above the proposed limits?
We cannot explain why the limits were high as we did not conduct these tests and we do not know what testing methods were used. We can reassure you that our test results, conducted by European Accredited Laboratories are a lot lower and all of our rice products comply with current arsenic regulation. Many already comply with the proposed new limits. We are working closely with the FDF and our suppliers to ensure all of our products comply with the new limits due in July 2015. And our course we will also continue to follow the Food Standards Agency’s advice.
What are companies doing to reduce arsenic levels in products?
As a membership association, FDF monitors academic research on this topic and communicates key findings to members, as well as collating available industry data and sharing these with the FSA, to ensure workable regulatory limits are set. The methodology to measure inorganic arsenic in rice is relatively new, therefore food business operators are unlikely to have extensive historical data on which to base decisions and actions. Nevertheless, the European rice association has confirmed that rice sold is in conformity with the proposed EU maximum limits in 99% of cases. The industry is working to ensure full compliance by the time new limits are implemented. Research has indicated that new varieties of rice and changes in agricultural practices both show promise in potentially reducing levels of inorganic arsenic, however these are long term developments.