6 Places to Look for Arsenic in Food

rice

Does arsenic in food scare you?

Arsenic is a chemical element that can be found naturally in rock formations and volcanic eruptions, but it also ends up in our soil as a result of arsenic-based pesticides. While these pesticides are now banned in the U.S., they’re still present in our soil and globally, they’re still used. Arsenic can also end up in our water supply, so in 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act to regulate its safety. Today, the maximum contaminant level (MCL) is 0.010 milligrams per Liter (mg/L) or 10 parts per billion (ppb).

But recently, it’s become clear that unregulated arsenic may be ending up in our food supply as well. It doesn’t matter if a food is organic, arsenic is a natural occurrence and it ends up in our food through agriculture. Plant roots absorb arsenic. Some plants absorb more than others. Rice for example, is extremely vulnerable because when fields are flooded, it promotes added absorption into the roots of the plant.

If foods are grown in arsenic hotspots, parts of the world that have high arsenic levels because of rock formations, volcanic eruptions, or leftover pesticide exposure, those foods can be extremely high in arsenic, a chemical that can cause skin, bladder, and lung cancer, as well as heart disease. Because arsenic is present in pollution, it can also end up in seafood like mercury does.

It’s not easy to avoid this poison because even if a field is organic today, it could have been planted with arsenic-based pesticides 20 years ago. Your best bet is to be aware of the foods that have been linked to arsenic through various studies. If you’re drinking well water that’s not tested for arsenic, you should have it tested regularly. Are you concerned about arsenic in food? Here’s where it hides:

1. Apple, pear, and grape juice

2. Rice (Brown rice actually had higher arsenic content than white rice.)

3. Rice-based cereals

4. Fish

5. Baby formula

6. Brown rice syrup

Vary your diet and eat rice and rice-based foods in moderation.

Related on Organic Authority

FDA Bans Nearly All Use of Arsenic in Animal Feed

Arsenic: How Much is Too Much in Drinking Water?

Arsenic-Tainted Rice Safe to Eat, Says FDA

Image: cookbookman17

Sara Novak
Sara Novak

Sara Novak is an independent journalist who reports on health, science, yoga, and travel. She was a writer for Discovery Communications from 2006-2013 and her work has been featured on Discovery Health, Popular Science, TLC, Animal Planet, What to Expect, TreeHugger, and many more. She’s also a certified yoga teacher. When she's not churning away on her laptop, she can be found atop her yoga mat or walking the beach with her husband, baby boy, and two lovable cocker spaniels.