U.S. Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) have sent letters to eight companies requesting information about arsenic levels in rice products. Waxman and DeGette have asked Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp., Carolina Rice, Della Rice, Earth’s Best, Nestlé Nutrition’s Gerber Rice, Jazzmen Rice, Martin Farms, and Whole Foods Market to respond by November 8, 2012, with details about their practices for monitoring and limiting the amount of arsenic in their rice products.
In requesting this information, Waxman and DeGette pointed to studies authored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Consumer Reports purportedly showing “worrisome” levels of inorganic arsenic “in popular brands of rice and rice products like rice cereal, breakfast cereal, and rice cakes.” The lawmakers have requested all company documents related to arsenic testing as well as those describing any health risk assessments undertaken on each company’s behalf. “FDA is currently in the process of analyzing 1,000 more rice samples in order to understand the levels of arsenic exposure and the health risks that consumption of rice might pose,” note the letters. “FDA says it does not yet have ‘an adequate scientific basis to recommend changes by consumers regarding their consumption of rice and rice products’ until a more thorough review of the data is completed.”