A study finds high levels of lead and other heavy metals in imported rice, posing a potentially serious health threat, especially to infants and children.
The same study, presented at the American Chemical Society annual meeting in New Orleans, also found high lead levels in some baby food.Â
The good news is that most rice consumed in the United States is grown here, but Â Tsanangurayi Tongesayi, Ph.D., who headed the analysis of rice imported from Asia, Europe and South America, said that imports of rice and flour are increasing despite theÂ vast rice fields in Louisiana, California,Â Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi.
"Such findings present a situation that is particularly worrisome given that infants and children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead poisoning," Tongesayi said. "For infants and children, the daily exposure levels from eating the rice products analyzed in this study would be 30-60 times higher than the FDA's provisional total tolerable intake (PTTI) levels."
Tongesayi's team, which is with Monmouth University in N.J., detected the highest amounts of lead in rice from Taiwan and China. Samples from the Czech Republic, Bhutan, Italy, India and Thailand had significantly high levels of lead as well.Â
Because of the increase in rice imports into the United States, Tongesayi said that rice from other nations has made its way into a wide variety of grocery stores, large supermarket chains and restaurants, as well as ethnic specialty markets and restaurants.