The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dangers of Rice?

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Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Dangers of Rice?

suave's picture
suave

Thanks, Mini!  This is terrific news!

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Great link, Mini, thank you!  Important for GF-ers, as many GF flours are rice-based.

Vicious Babushka's picture
Vicious Babushka

I think it's terrible news, that rice contains poison.

suave's picture
suave

That may or may not be so, but hopefully now "health" community will switch to preaching about the dangers of rice.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

cotton pests and that contaminated the soil.  More info in net under: arsenic and cotton ;

arsenic and chicken      

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Worry if you want.  That just means more rice for me, LOL!

*The Indian branch of the family has been eating tons of rice for thousands of years - so far no greater incidence of genetic damage, cancer, or stomach problems than the rest of the world.  The FDA isn't being recalcitrant on the issue, if anything they're being too careful, IMO.  YMMV, and obviously does.*

http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm319827.htm

Which I find far too conservative in their advice, in the absence of any data proving a direct connection between rice consumption and any health problems. Or even an indirect connection (purely correlational data doesn't count). But again, to repeat, YMMV, and obviously does.

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

My take on Kitchen Barbarian's link is that the government now has a better ability to distinguish between organic and inorganic forrms of arsenic, and so is updating its data.  They have not issued any warnings or limits because they are still looking for scientific data that shows causality- i.e., that rice is making people sick.  

A few simple observations from looking at the updated data:

From looking at this table:  http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/ucm319924.htm , it appears that arsenic levels are higher in brown rice and lower in white rice.  It also appears that levels may be lower in parboiled rice, leading me to think that perhaps parboiling/draining/adding fresh water to rice at home could be helpful to those with concerns.  

The summary data suggest that basmati varieties have lower levels than non-basmati, but it looks to me like this could be due to the fact that the basmati group contains more white rice (75% of samples were white) than the non-basmati group (61% of samples were white).  The basmati group also contained a lot more organic samples (25%) than the non-basmati group (only 2%).

I was sort of expecting/hoping to find that organic rice would have lower levels than conventional, and this did appear to be true, but the number of organic samples was somewhat low (14%).

I don't know why they divided rice into basmati and non-basmati categories, anyone have any ideas on that? And there weren't very many short grain rice samples at all (only about 3%), so I don't really know how my risotto rice might rank in that table.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Basmati rice is supposedly specific to one region in India.  Might be serving as a control ???

 

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Basmati rice is grown all over the world.  It's a distinct species of rice and actually includes different levels of various proteins, which make it unsuitable for dosa, for example.

Red Matta rice is another distinct species of rice which is still grown primarily in certain areas but it is also a varietal and not a regional nomenclature.  By that I mean that it can be grown in other areas and is still the same rice; last I checked there was a sort of mini-war going on over the right to use the name "RED MATTA" or "ROSEMATTA" when it's grown in other than it's originating region.

Short grain rice is used much more often in China and other Asian countries than is the long grain rice - "sticky" rice is more popular.  If they're seriously basing any of this on data gathered from residents of China (which I think they are), they need to look at the short and medium grain rices as well, because those folks are not eating the same types of rice we commonly eat here in the US. 

In fact there needs to be a LOT more data collected specific to varietals instead of lumping everything together, as well as looking at regional variations.  All these things need to be considered and controlled for:  Region, weather patterns, water supplies, pesticide/fungicide use now and in the past, varieties, handling, milling, storage - probably a ton of other stuff as well.  It's a complicated system that will require complicated and in-depth studies - entire SERIES of studies.  Proper study of the situation will take years - decades, actually.

In the absence of any data indicating any actual ill health associated with eating rice I just wonder what the impetus is.  With over 1B people in India and around 1.5B in China, I don't think it's killing people off in any detectable numbers.  China has a HUGE problem with adulteration of food already, making studies there even more fraught with difficulty as far as isolating causative factors.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

I take that back - Basmati IS a distinct species and it can be grown basically anywhere rice can be grown, where conditions are right for that variety - but the name itself is protected (as for Rosematta).  Hence things like Texmati (a hybrid of an American long grain rice and Basmiti) and Jasmati (a hybrid of jasmine rice, also a protected name, and basmati) trying to get around the legal furor over names. 

I never knew that.  I knew about the hoo-haw over Rosematta (which is a rice variety that is TERRIBLY prone to adulteration and outright fraud), but not that there was a similar situation going on with Basmati (and has been for decades).

There is a lot of adulteration of rice in general but I don't see how getting all protective of the name is helpful.  We're talking about the right to label the authentic stuff what it really is, not the problem of finding out the stuff you bought is not what the label says it is. The idea of not being able to call, say, an apple variety "Washington Red Delight" by that name (made up btw) because the tree wasn't planted in Washington state kind of boggles the mind. 

So there isn't a lot of economic impetus to grow the pure basmati strains outside of India when you don't get to call the rice what it actually is.  So instead they're coming up with hybrids that they can actually market using names people might at least semi-recognize, such as Jasmati and Texmati etc.

Here's a question - if you grow vast quantities of basmati rice outside India, and that rice is added to basmati rice grown inside India, and then the rice thus "adulterated" is labeled as "basmati" - has it REALLY been adulterated?  LOL!

Jasmati, btw, is pretty good, but Texmati, while a LOT better than the stickier long grain no-name rice you typically get in the grocery store, isn't quite up to Basmati standards.  It's good, it's just not quite as good as basmati if basmati is what you are looking for.

On the one hand I sort of understand wanting to protect your economic interests; but on the other hand, not being able to call something what it is because of protectionist interests isn't reasonable either.  I get the idea of not being allowed to call something, say, mozzarella if it isn't actually made from buffalo milk; but not being allowed to call it Mozzarella because it wasn't made in Italy is over the top.  On the other hand, even in Italy, mozzarella is more often made from cow's milk now anyway, so .... what's the big deal?

Actually Feta cheese is probably a better example since it is one of those EU "protected" names (I don't think mozzarella is).  If it's not made from sheep's milk or a blend of sheep and goat milk, following the "recipe" for feta cheese, then ok, don't let it be called feta cheese.  But it shouldn't depend on where it was made, only that it was made following the correct procedures and using the correct ingredients.  (totally ignoring the fact that this type of cheese is made all over the world, but especially in the Mediterranean region where it is virtually indistinguishable from the same cheese made on the island of Lesbos).

Oh well.  Totally different issue.  Sorry for the digression, LOL!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in India, and someone in Arkansas wanted to call his rice basmati and it tested high for arsenic.  The effect would spill over onto my market share because my customers might think my properly named basmati rice was also tainted even when it wasn't.  So I think the location with it's particular environment, name (and flavours) should be protected.  Environments do impart special aromas and flavours (and minerals) to their products.   

The name basmati also implies the cooking process for basmati rice which is longer than short grain rice.  

I believe there is also a danger in picking up a product that may include in the ingredient list, rice flour, with no indication of where it is from.  Cereal, sauces, soups, chips, crackers cookies, dressings, many prepared products.  I want to know how much is in a product and how much is too much to consume? 

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

We'll just have to disagree on the naming thing.  Basmati rice is basmati rice; sure soil conditions can make some variations, but soil conditions vary in India too.  It isn't grown in just one place, it is grown throughout Northern India in places of similar weather patterns but varying soil conditions.  I would support including the place where it is grown (such as Texas Basmati or Kashmir Basmati) - but really there is more variation than that already.  There are dozens, if not hundreds, of commercially grown basmati rice varieties, and they are not all the same.  So you ALREADY do not know what you are getting when you buy a bag labeled "Basmati".  That's ignoring the problem of adulteration and substitution, which is rampant, especially inside India.

Brands of basmati vary a lot.  I buy Royal whenever I can find it; I bought Tilda once (which is probably what I have in my rice bin right now) and that was very good but expensive; Zebra brand was ok  but nothing spectacular; Deer brand is TERRIBLE and it was grown and packaged in India.  The brands vary because the type of rice they are packaging is different.  All basmati is already not the same even when grown in India.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi,

Generally I support mini on this, although obviously it's a complex question.

Tilda brand is expensive, but very popular here in the UK.   I'm drawn to asking why, and strongly suspect it is because it is a trusted quality brand.   I suspect the word "provenance" might have something to do with that.   Point taken; all basmati rice undoubtedly isn't the same.   What I am really suggesting is "you get what you pay for".   Generally, it costs more to produce food honestly rather than cut corners and produce something which is second-rate.

Best wishes

Andy

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

it often comes down to that and the similar, "buyer beware!"   

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Yet you often do NOT get what you pay for also, and restricting the name of something does not help with that issue.  Royal is also a very good type of basmati rice and yet it remains affordable.  I only bought the Tilda because they were out of the Royal. It's as if you were only allowed to call it "sweet corn" if it is grown in Iowa, LOL!

pepperhead212's picture
pepperhead212

...of the early days of wine production in CA, and other areas, where anyone could call any red wine a Burgundy, Bordeaux, Chianti, or whatever they wanted to! Amazing how times change. Of course, there are still generic wines and cheeses out there, with those European names, but at least they've gotten better. BTW, I'll stick with the Asian rices.

Dave

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

I buy 25 # of Thai Homali at 90 cents a pound at Lee Lee's Chinese Grocery.  I don't even buy flour in more than 5 pound bags.  Bread is supposed to be bad for you too and people shun it as a result but .....I really couldn't care less.  Anything in moderation is no worries for me - except pie of course :-).  I'm guessing you would have to eat a lot of rice for every meal for 50 years before arsenic would catch up to you. So i'm eating rice just like I eat bread - the best and in moderation since I'm diabetic.  Still, to each their own.

pepperhead212's picture
pepperhead212

Thai jasmine rice is my favorite, too, with basmati a close second, so I was glad when I saw the Consumer Reports (Nov. 2012) listing of the arsenic in rices listed the Thai and Indian rices as the lowest. One explanation for the high levels of arsenic in US rice was that decades before the rice was being grown in many of the areas there were factories dumping polutants into the water in the areas, and plants and other organisms absobed it and deposited it in the silt in the deltas and mudlands downstream, which is where rice is grown. Also, lead arsenate, an insecticide not used since the 80s, but previously used in large amounts in cotton fields (who's gonna eat cotton, right?), deposited large amounts of the two heavy metals in the ground, and foraging animals eat plants that concentrate the metals, then the animal waste is often used as fertlizer for rice and other foods. Fortunately, the Thai rice regions don't have this problem, as a rule, and neither do the Basmati growing areas. However, China polutes even worse than we used to, so I would not want to eat Chinese rice, even if it was as good as Thai rice! CR did not have any Chinese rice in their tests, but I'd be willing to bet that it is the rice used in a lot of prepared foods using rice, since it is probably cheapest.

BTW,  KB, I noticed on that list in CR that there is a basmati rice grown in Arkansas (Della brand) and another in California (Lundberg).  The Lundberg was the lowest ppm of all the basmatis, while the Della was the highest, though still not in the "red zone" (over 5.0 ppm)

Dave

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

I believe this to be a blow over from an earlier flurry of reports out of China in May - nearly half (44%) the rice tested from Guangzhou restaurants contained excessive amounts of Cadmium. The rice is said to have originated in Hunan Province. An extremely toxic situation - needless to say the Chinese people were not amused...,

N.Y.Times article is here.

Wild-Yeast