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DeLauro Introduces Legislation to Limit Arsenic in Rice

December 7, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC (December 7, 2017) — This week, Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) introduced legislation to limit the amount of inorganic arsenic that is permitted in rice and rice-based products.  The Reducing food-based Inorganic Compounds Exposure (RICE) Act would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set a maximum permissible level of inorganic arsenic for rice and food containing rice. This bill takes an important step to ensure the safety of rice and rice products for both adults and children.

“The federal government has long-known about the dangers of arsenic in our food supply. Yet high levels of inorganic arsenic—a known carcinogen—are still present in rice, rice-based cereal, and other foods many adults, children, and infants eat every day,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “The FDA has a responsibility to ensure our food supply is safe, especially for infants and children, but there are currently no limits on the amount of arsenic allowed in our food. That is why Congress must take up the RICE Act to protect all Americans health and well-being.”

"This bill would be an important step forward for public health," said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports. "Our research since 2011 has highlighted arsenic's prevalence in common rice-based foods, and identified its potential risks—especially to vulnerable populations, such as young children. We support the RICE Act and urge all members of Congress to support it as well."

In addition to establishing a maximum permissible level of inorganic arsenic in rice and rice products, the RICE Act would direct the FDA to set a separate standard for rice milk and other rice-based foods frequently consumed by infants and children. A study released this week by Healthy Babies Bright Futures found, “six times more arsenic in infant rice cereal than other types of infant cereals.” Eighty percent of children in the United States eat rice in their first year of life, putting infants at a high risk of exposure to dangerous levels of arsenic that is linked to IQ loss and other long-term neurological harm.

The RICE Act is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Consumers Union.