Arsenic dangers in gluten-free rice foods for celiac disease

Lana Bandoim's picture

People with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities often turn to products made with rice flour in an attempt to escape the protein. However, researchers in Spain have analyzed gluten-free rice foods and discovered disturbing levels of arsenic. They are concerned about the impact this dangerous substance will have on people who consume large quantities of rice products.

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Researchers focused on a variety of gluten-free rice products including bread, pasta, cookies, milk and other items. They estimate that a typical person with celiac disease ends up with 0.45 and 0.46 micrograms per kilogram of body weight of arsenic per day after consuming rice products. This is higher than the bottom threshold the European Food Safety Authority believes is safe for arsenic. The organization considers that eating 0.3 - 8.0 micrograms per kilogram of body weight of arsenic a day is enough to cause health problems.

The research from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche indicates that arsenic can be found in many rice products, but legislation is not regulating the dangerous substance. In Europe, there is a movement to establish laws that would limit the amount of arsenic in rice products. However, there is still a need for a global movement to force brands and manufacturers to reduce or eliminate the amount of arsenic in food. In addition, researchers want every package to have a clear label that indicates the type or rice inside and its origin.

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Arsenic is a toxic chemical that can become concentrated in rice as it grows, and pesticides contribute to the problem. However, rice is not the only food product that has high levels of this chemical, and it has become an issue in apple and pear juices. Arsenic poisoning in the human body can lead to headaches, diarrhea, nausea, cramps, convulsions and death. It has also been linked to cancer, diabetes, stroke and other health issues.

Read more about celiac disease:
Gluten-free Halloween candy safe for celiac disease
Celiac disease apps help create gluten-free meal plans

Image: KVDP/Wikimedia Commons

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