A team of researchers at Monmouth University reported that tests done on rice imported into the US found amounts of lead that are far higher than the maximum safe amount recommended by the FDA. This amount, also known as the provisional total tolerable intake (PTTI), was exceeded by a factor of 120 in some cases. Lead researcher Tsanangurayi Tongesayi and his team tested rice samples from eight countries including China, India, and the Czech Republic; these countries represent 65 percent of total US rice imports.
What’s the Big Idea?
Although the US only imports 7 percent of its rice, the report comes on the heels of other studies pointing to high levels of arsenic in imported rice. Tongesayi says the contamination is due to countries’ varying agricultural practices: “With a globalised food market, we eat food from every corner of the world, but pollution…[and] agricultural practices are different from region to region. Maybe we need international regulations that will govern production and distribution of food.” The UN’s Codex Alimentarius comes close to meeting this goal, but it’s more of an informal guideline. A spokesman for the FDA says the agency plans to review the new research with an eye towards possibly revising its lead level recommendations.
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