Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced they will introduce legislation today to limit the amount of arsenic permitted in rice and rice-based products. A recent Consumer Reports investigation revealed alarmingly high levels of arsenic in rice and rice-based products, such as cereal. There are currently no federal standards for arsenic in most foods, including rice and rice-based products.
"The idea that high levels of arsenic, a known carcinogen, are present in rice, cereal and other common, everyday foods is absolutely outrageous," DeLauro said. "The federal government has an obligation to every American family to ensure that the food they consume is safe and should not make them sick. This is not the first time we have been alerted to the dangers of arsenic, and quite simply we must do more to ensure that our food supply is safe. This bill is a step in that direction."
"The recent Consumer Reports investigation finding of measurable amounts of arsenic in a range of rice products is cause for concern for consumers, and parents in particular," said Pallone. "The health risks associated with inorganic arsenic as a carcinogen are widely known and there absolutely should be a federal arsenic standard for rice products similar to those for bottled water."
"Ensuring the safety of our food supply is among the most important responsibilities of the federal government," said Lowey. "It is inexcusable that no standards exist to keep arsenic, a known carcinogen, out of rice and rice-based products like cereal. This legislation will help protect families from this unacceptable risk."
Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, the policy division of Consumer Reports, said, "This bill would help ensure that we have standards in place to reduce arsenic in rice and rice products. Based on our findings, we strongly believe that the government needs to set these limits. We commend the sponsors of this legislation for standing up to help consumers."
The R.I.C.E Act (Reducing food-based Inorganic and organic Compounds Exposure Act) requires the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set a maximum permissible level of arsenic in rice and food containing rice. FDA currently has standards for bottled water, but nothing else.
The Consumer Reports investigation found arsenic in more than 200 samples of rice and rice-based products. Arsenic is known to contribute to the likelihood of developing multiple cancers and other serious health problems.
In February, Pallone was joined by DeLauro and Lowey in introducing the Arsenic Prevention and Protection from Lead Exposure in Juice Act of 2012 or "APPLE Juice Act" which would require the FDA to establish standards for arsenic and lead in fruit juices after a separate investigation revealed alarmingly high levels of arsenic and lead in apple and grape juice in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.