Approximately what percentage of the world’s population relies on rice as a staple food?

    April 7, 2023

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Case Study: Arsenic (As) is a toxic metal like lead (Pb). It is found throughout the world in water, soil, and air. Arsenic occurs in two forms, inorganic and organic. Inorganic arsenic is found in its metallic form or attached to noncarbon elements and is present in contaminated water and some foods. Organic arsenic compounds are attached to carbon atoms and can occur in some foods, especially seafood, from contaminated water. Organic arsenic is less harmful to health than inorganic arsenic; however, continuous exposure to arsenic can cause serious health problems such as skin lesions and skin cancer.

Arsenic usually occurs at low levels in nature, but is absorbed by some plants more readily than other plants as the plants grow; in turn, it can find its way into human food supply through this pathway. Rice in particular assimilates arsenic from the environment more easily than many other foods. As rice grows, this grain absorbs higher levels of inorganic arsenic than other plants. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been monitoring arsenic levels in food for many years, it was not until 2011 that improve detection methods became available to distinguish the forms of arsenic, and the FDA expanded its testing to better understand the possible health risks associated with arsenic and food consumption. Currently, there is a concern that rice-based products for infants and children might contain significant amounts of arsenic. In an attempt to reduce exposure of inorganic arsenic to infants, the FDA in April 2016 proposed a limit to inorganic arsenic in baby rice cereal.


  1. Approximately what percentage of the world’s population relies on rice as a staple food?
  2. There are many types and forms of rice. Which types or forms are more likely to be contaminated with arsenic, and which forms are least likely to contain arsenic?
  3. Is there a method of cooking rice that will lower the arsenic content of rice? If yes, describe the method.
  4. Which level did the FDA propose as the limit of inorganic arsenic in baby rice cereal?
  5. Which grains tend to be low in arsenic?

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