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Dangerous level of lead in imported rice in US.

Beware of imported rice from Taiwan, China, Czech Republic, Bhutan, Italy, India and Thailand.


Recently New Jersey researchers discovered that the white rice imported into the United States from across the globe has potentially high levels of lead!

Dr. Tsanangurayi Tongesayi, an environmental chemistry professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, US, said his team’s finding is concerning to the major rice consumers of the Asian-American population and it is worrisome to consider the health hazards it can render to infants and children who are comparatively more sensitive.

Dr. Tongesayi's team analyzed rice samples imported from Asia, Europe and South America. They found the imported rice samples to contain anywhere from 6 to 12 mg/kg of lead; this is surpassing the FDA's allowable levels. The highest amount of lead was found in rice imported from Taiwan and China. Rice from the Czech Republic, Bhutan, Italy, India and Thailand also had significantly high levels of lead. The study found, from the analyzed products, that for adults, lead exposure from daily intake of imported rice is about 20 to 40 times higher than the FDA's tolerable levels and for infants and children it would be 30 to 60 times higher than the FDA's provisional total tolerable intake (PTTI) levels. Tests are underway for samples from Pakistan, Brazil and other countries. The team’s analysis is based on the calculations of daily recommended servings of rice, but people may be consuming more than the recommended serving. So, all the numbers may be just under-estimated values.

Though US is a major rice producer, imported rice accounts for 7% and the import of rice and rice flour has gone up by 200% since 1999. With about 3 billion people across the world consuming rice as their staple diet, this finding is a matter of global concern.

What does the National Institute of Health (NIH) say? Even small amount of lead exposure can interact with the developing nervous system and brain of infants and children. So, it is more harmful to them compared to adults. Complications like behavioral problems, IQ deficits, hearing problems, kidney damage and stunted physical growth can happen.

Dr. Tongesayi says agricultural practices like irrigation of crops with raw sewage effluent and untreated industrial effluent is a cause of concern. Also, increasing practice of dumping electronic waste into developing countries is increasing the pollution. Although, Codex Alimentarius, (a collection of food-safety standards set by the United Nations) exists, is it time to review the need for international regulations that will govern production and distribution of food across the globe?

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Watch the Video#2: Know about Lead !

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