Wednesday, 15 February 2017

'Arsenic and Old Lace'


 Did you know that cooked rice is laced with arsenic? This was news to me, but fear not help is at hand

      • Basmati rice contains the least levels of arsenic than any other rice
      • Brown rice contains more arsenic than white rice due to the husk
      • Growing rice organically makes no difference to the levels
      • Rice cakes and crackers contain higher levels than cooked rice
      • The levels of arsenic found in rice milk far exceed the amounts that are allowed in drinking water



We are buying more rice products for our children than at any other time. More and more baby rice products are appearing on our supermarket shelves.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element which can be found in soil and water, but because arsenic is found in soil and water, small amounts can get into food. However, generally these levels are too low to cause concern. Rice, however, has around 10 - 20 times more aresenic than other cereal crops. This is due to the fact that it is grown in flooded conditions which makes it easier for the arsenic to leave the soil and enter the rice. When it comes to rice milk the Food Standards Agency advises that it should never be used as an alternative milk for children below the age of 5. However, surprisingly there is no legal obligation for rice milk producers to issue warnings on their packets.
We enjoy rice dishes and I usually make one most weeks, but it is very simple and easy to minimise the risks
During the cooking process the arsenic leaves the rice and enters the cooking water. If like many people you use a rice cooker or cook your rice in a small amount of water so that it absorbs it all leaving the rice ready to serve then the arsenic is all reabsorbed. Better to boil the rice in a large pan full of boiling water then drain it so that the arsenic is not reabsorbed. 
Even better, soak the rice overnight before cooking, this allows the arsenic to escape into the water - drain the rice and rinse thoroughly with fresh water, and then cook in plenty of boiling water. When cooked, drain the rice, and rinse again with boiling water to get rid of the last of the cooking water. Using this method removes more than 80% of the arsenic, whatever is left is extremely negligible, so no need for alarm

54 comments:

  1. Yes, I read elsewhere that there was arsenic in rice. I have always cooked rice in as much boiling water as the pan would take, so that it has plenty of room and that the water isn't re-absorbed. This is just the method I've employed without knowing that this is the best way to cook it. I have always rinsed rice with boiling water, too. This was to get rid of the excess starch so that has been a good method, quite by chance, too.
    Plus we use Basmati rice, but the wholemeal one. Might change to white from now on.
    Margaret P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too have always cooked my rice like you but I shall definitely be soaking it the night before I use it in future.
      Did you get your new camera and do you like it?

      Delete
  2. I had no idea of this, Rosemary, and it is good to be aware. Thankfully I have never used a rice cooker or absorption methods, just continued with a large pot of boiling water because that is what I have always done. Now I will add the rinsing as well. We find the older we get the more careful we need to be with what we put into our bodies. Lovely photos of the rice dish.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as I remember we did not have rice when I was a child but we did have rice pudding - I think that this information is important for those who have very young children especially if they drink the rice milk.

      Delete
  3. Hello Rosemary, More and more it seems that the best nutritional advice is a balanced diet, not too much of any one thing, 'healthy' and junk foods included. Usually I prefer Thai jasmine rice, which is also regarded as low in arsenic. The Wikipedia article noted that the worst offenders were rices grown in the U.S. on land formerly sprayed with arsenic pesticides. Rachel Carson is vindicated once again.
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jim - I too normally use the Thai jasmine rice and have always cooked it in the correct way without knowing, but I shall be soaking it the night before too in the future.

      Delete
  4. Good grief, I didn't know that! Thanks, Rosemary - will discuss with the Memsahib before our next curry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enjoy your next curry Mike - I like a curry too

      Delete
  5. That's news to me! Will be more careful next time I cook rice. Thanks for the warning, and cooking directions Rosemary!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that it is especially important for the young Betty - rice was not on the menu when I was young

      Delete
  6. Interesting! Did not know that. Love that blue art glass bowl too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose it does resemble a glass bowl Debra but it is actually a pottery bowl which I bought in Turkey, but it is decorated in a particular style found in the Anatolian region.

      Delete
  7. Dear Rosemary, This information is most interesting and thank you for bringing to our attention. We love rice in this house and we have it often. I also enjoy the convenience of our rice cooker. However, your tip to soak rice the day before is advice I will heed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes do soak it Gina it hardly takes any extra bother, and give it rinse too.

      Delete
  8. Dear Rosemary, that is an interesting post! Honestly I had no clue that rice contains arsenic. I will change my cooking methods to the ones you suggested. I think we all need to do what we can to put as little toxins in our bodies as possible. Thanks for the heads up!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most of our vegetables, cereals etc contain small traces of arsenic, but because of the way rice is grown it contains so much more. No problems at all if cooked properly.

      Delete
  9. I had no idea, and like you we eat rice about once a week. I guess I'll start soaking it over night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do soak it, takes no time and is an efficient way of getting rid of it.

      Delete
  10. Dear Rosemary - I remember hearing about arsenic and rice but have forgotten about it since there seem no problems to the health of us. (But I’m not sure about rice milk.) Rice has been grown more than 2000 years in my country and it is our staple food, some people eat cooked rice (mainly white rice) for three meals and rice crackers are very popular, but Japanese women live the longest on the planet, men the sixth, and still most elderly people are perky. From that I conclude you don’t have to be “overly” concerned if only you have balanced diet and when you cook rice, you rinse rice enough, keep it soaked in water for a while, drain the water and fill the rice cooker with rice and new water. Rice has been mostly cooked by rice cookers which was invented a few years after WWII. Thanks for both warning and solutions.

    Yoko

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Soaking and rinsing is the secret Yoko especially where small children are concerned.

      Delete
  11. I also had no idea. Thank you for telling us.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh crumbs, news to me too. I cook mine in a steam oven but it does sit in a little water and all that is absorbed. Just as well it's usually basmati then!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Soak it the night before and then rinse it before you cook it Jessica and then it will be fine.

      Delete
  13. What a fascinating post. I always wondered why they tell you to rinse rice well before cooking, now I know why. Double rinses here from now one. But I couldn't give up my rice cooker, it's too good :) B x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, all you need to do is soak it, then rinse it, and give it a rinse in boiling water at the end.

      Delete
  14. I'm surprised I'm still here - I use very little water to cook my rice and never soak it. Time for a change.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you are! no seriously, I believe that you would have to eat rice every single day and have done so all of your life - its never too late to make little changes though.

      Delete
  15. That's news to me but I only eat rice in the occasional curry these days although I used to love my mum's rice pudding but I'm too lazy to make it myself. Arsenic and old lace is one of my favourite B/W films. Watched lace doilie placemats being made last weekend in a demonstration and it's incredibly complex with dozens of different pins and pegs twisted across each other, even for the white plain ones. No wonder they went blind years ago doing it full time in dimly lit cottages. Nice plate/bowl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We never had rice when I was small - it wasn't on the menu then, I think it arrived when international travel began, but I too grew up on rice pudding. All the arsenic would be absorbed into the milk, but I am still here to tell the tale.

      Delete
  16. That is all such good advice and something I had no idea about. I do prefer Basmati anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is easily achieved Michael and only takes a few minutes of extra time - better for us too.

      Delete
    2. Good to know. thank you! And here I am coming back to not have to play as much catch up and nothing new from you! Ha. thank you for your lovely comment on the blog btw and yes, I think Scribble picnic is going to do great. I love the piece I jsut finished for it that will be going up on Wednesday. Quite darling, really, if I do say so. :)

      I hope you and your fam are well.

      Delete
    3. ♡ - I will call and see how it is going on Wednesday - good luck

      Delete
  17. Oh My! We eat brown rice at least three times a week. I already soak beans overnight once a week, it looks like pre soaking will become a regular before bed task.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simple to accomplish - soak, rinse, then rinse when cooked with boiling water does the trick.

      Delete
  18. Oh wow, this is really good information, thank you ! I eat quite a lot of rice ( all types) and am definitely going to follow your advice on how to avoid the arsenic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It doesn't take a lot of extra effort, but worthwhile doing

      Delete
  19. I have heard that before but had forgotten. I do use a rice cooker but only a few times a month - usually for black bean chili. I will start soaking and boiling instead,
    How about prepared rice such as the microwave packets we get over here from Trader Joe's? They are so quick and often a mix of different rices which are handy. I'll be checking the box to see what info. if any, is shared regarding arsenic. All we need now is to be told the dangers of 'old lace' haha! Sorry Rosemary, just could resist that one!

    Hugs - Mary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mary - I don't know the answer to your question about microwave rice but I imagine it could have been made using the absorbtion method. I think that the information is really of importantance to those of us with grandchildren and great grand children within our midst - there are so many rice products on the market for babies and infants. When we were young rice in savoury dishes was absent from the menu - there was only rice pudding.

      Delete
  20. An interesting post. So there's a lot to be said for the old fashioned method of boiling rice in a large quantity of water. The dish is beautiful.

    Ms Soup

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - sticking to the old fashioned way of doing things is safe.

      Delete
  21. I had heard this before. I do use Basmati and cook mine by boiling water in a pan. I do like that people are looking at our food supply more closely.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Now that came as a total surprise to me, Rosemary! Awful that normally healthy food is dangerous. (They gave horses a bit of arsenic, if I remember right, to make their hair strong and shiny). But your advice is sound!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is really all about the way rice is grown Britta other cereals are not affected.

      Delete
  23. Dearest Rosemary,
    Oh, we can also worry too much.
    Don't think that a moderate use of rice will affect our health.
    We use brown rice for health reasons and indeed, we might have to soak it or at least rince it before cooking.
    Here in the USA it seems that rice is often grown on soil where they grew cotton and that has been treated with arsenic pesticides. Don't believe all you read as there are a lot of fear mongers beging very active in writing articles. IF this would be true, than Asia and other rice consuming continents would not have over population!
    Just my analysis, based on common sense.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mariette - I would not want to alarm anyone unnecessarily but for those who have grandchildren or may be great grandchildren this is an easy, wise, and simple way to prepare rice for them.

      Delete
  24. I had no idea about this. Now I have to change the way its preparation. Thank you for such knowledge. Regards.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This is completely new to me. I will copy this to my daughter.
    I haven't yet caught up on all my reading, but I can see that I will have to set aside some serious time with your blog. There is such a lot to read and it is always so interesting. I missed it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is lovely to hear from you H, you have been in my thoughts.
      Arsenic in rice! It is the children that concern me most, but so easy to get rid of it. When I was young savoury rice was not part of the menu we only had rice pudding.

      Delete
  26. Dear Rosemary, thank you for sharing this information. It's timely as I overheard our daughter no 1 telling her son that one has to be careful when cooking rice and I didn't ask her the reason for this. It sounds like a good idea to rinse the cooked rice in boiling water before serving.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Linda - hope you are well - soaking it the night before and then rising it before cooking is also a good thing to do too.

      Delete

❖PLEASE NOTE❖ Comments made by those who hide their identity will be deleted

“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you - you have to go to them sometimes”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh