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Arsenic in Rice

What we tested

In this study, we sought to determine whether some types of rice were lower in arsenic than others and whether alternative grains such as quinoa were lower in arsenic than rice.

In conducting this analysis, we tested 128 samples of basmati, jasmine, and sushi rice, and combined that data with the data from our 2012 test, as well as the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) data, to create a data set of 697 total rice samples. We also tested 114 samples of alternative grains and analyzed FDA data of 656 foods containing rice.

Arsenic in Rice

What we found

  • Basmati rice from India, Pakistan, or California, and sushi rice from the U.S. had the lowest levels of total inorganic arsenic compared with other types of rice.
  • In general, rice labeled as from the U.S. or from Arkansas, Louisiana, or Texas tended to have the highest levels of total inorganic arsenic compared with rice from elsewhere.
  • Brown rice of a particular type always had higher levels of inorganic arsenic than white rice of the same type. But the origin of rice can also affect arsenic levels in addition to type. 
  • Alternative grains to rice such as amaranth, millet, and quinoa all have significantly less inorganic arsenic than rice.

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Arsenic in Rice

Our advice to consumers

  • Basmati rice from India, Pakistan, or California, and sushi rice from the U.S. are the best choices for consumers to reduce exposure to inorganic arsenic from rice.
  • Consumers can eat about 4.5 weekly servings of basmati rice from India, Pakistan, or California, or sushi rice, and not increase lifetime population cancer risk. For other types of rice, we recommend two servings per week for adults and 1.25 servings per week for children. A serving size of rice is approximately 45 grams (1/4 cup) uncooked.
  • Brown basmati rices from India, Pakistan, or California are better choices for brown rice. Those brown rices have lower levels of inorganic arsenic than other brown rices from all other parts of the U.S.
  • Consumers who eat a lot of rice and rice products, such as those on a gluten-free diet, can reduce their exposure to arsenic by limiting consumption of those products and incorporating more non-rice-based, non-gluten-based grains.
  • Children (up to 70 pounds) should rarely eat hot rice cereals or rice pastas.