What Is Arsenic?

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that is found in soil, water, plants and animals. The properties of arsenic have been known since antiquity. In ancient times, it was used in a variety of potions of uncertain therapeutic value and was a favorite in various poison-for-hire schemes. In modern times, arsenic has been used in a variety of applications including as a pesticide, as a wood preservative and in the semiconductor industry. It exists in two forms: organic and inorganic.

How does arsenic get in my food?

Plants are what they eat, and arsenic is one of the most common elements found in the environment. Because arsenic exists in soil and water, its presence in many plants and food, including rice, is inevitable. It can also be found in flour, corn, wheat, fruit, poultry, rice and vegetables, as well as beer and wine.

Some studies suggest that human activity can elevate arsenic levels and we support ongoing research to utilize natural systems to minimize levels of inorganic arsenic in the food supply.

What are the health risks of arsenic?

Chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic can elevate the risk of cancer. The levels of exposure in which this correlation has been documented has been at levels substantially greater than the levels found in rice. In some studies that observed the effects of poor water quality, scientists have found that high oral exposure to arsenic over time caused acute and long-term adverse health effects1.

We support the FDA’s recommendation for the general public to eat a balanced and diversified diet that includes a variety of grains in order to ensure good nutrition. In addition, we support the FDA initiative, Closer to Zero, to reduce heavy metal risks, including arsenic, for infants and young children in their food2.



Is Lundberg Family Farms testing for arsenic?

Yes, we have been testing for arsenic in our rice for over ten years. The average level of inorganic arsenic in our rice is below the standards established by the FDA, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Codex (Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO)).

What does "PPM" mean?

This is the unit of measurement for our testing results.

1 ppm = one part per million, which is equivalent to one second in 11.5 days, 7 drops of ink in a standard 60-gallon bathtub or 10 bricks from the entire Empire State Building.

Does white rice have less arsenic than brown rice?

Yes, and here’s why. Rice starts life as whole grain that includes three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. This is essentially brown rice. White rice is a refined grain, which consists of just the endosperm. The bran and germ, which can absorb many nutrients in rice, are removed in the milling process to create white rice.

As reported by the FDA’s 2016 study of rice products, brown rice had approximately twice the concentration of inorganic arsenic compared with white rice3.

Additionally, brown rice has significantly higher levels of vitamin B, manganese, phosphorus, iron and fiber than white rice. Our testing of inorganic arsenic in rice is focused on our brown rice.

3 Arsenic in Rice and Rice Products Risk Assessment Report, March 2016

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Last Updated 5/1/23