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30 Indian basmati rice samples contain arsenic: USFDA

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Washington:

The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) has found arsenic content in about 30 samples of Indian basmati rice in its preliminary analysis.     

The regulator would issue advisory to consumers only after completing its entire study. 

However, exporters from India said that basmati rice was free from arsenic content as shipments are made only after complying with required tests.

Arsenic is a chemical matter present in the environment from both natural and human sources. It is found in water, air, food and soil in organic and inorganic form.

As of now, the USFDA has collected 200 samples of rice and rice products available in American market from different countries including India.

"The FDA is in the process of collecting and analysing a total of approximately 1,200 samples to examine the issue thoroughly. This data collection will be completed by the end of 2012. Once the data collection is completed, FDA will analyse these results and determine whether or not to issue additional  recommendations," the USFDA said in a release.

Of 200 samples released yesterday, as many as 34 samples were from Indian origin basmati rice. Of that, 31 samples contained inorganic arsenic content in the range of 1.8 to 6.5 microgram per serving.

When asked about the preliminary findings of the USFDA, All India Rice Exporters Association former President Vijay Sethia said, "Indian basmati rice is free from arsenic content as we export only after testing water and rice." 

India, the world's largest producer and exporter, ships about 2 million tonne basmati rice a year.

In its statement, the USFDA said that the analysis of 200 initial samples found average levels of inorganic arsenic for the various rice and rice products in the range of 3.5 to 6.7 micrograms per serving.

"Based on the currently available data and scientific literature, the FDA does not have an adequate scientific basis to recommend changes by consumers regarding their consumption of rice and rice products," it added.

For the time being, the regulator has advised consumers to have a balanced diet with wide variety of grains.

USFDA Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor said, "The FDA's ongoing data collection and other assessments will give us a solid scientific basis for determining what action levels and/or other steps are needed to reduce exposure to arsenic in rice and rice products."

Story first published on: September 20, 2012 16:27 (IST)

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