Rice, an important staple of many people's diets, may contain a dangerous amount of lead, new research shows. New Orleans researchers reported Wednesday at an American Chemical Society meeting that rice imported from Asia, Europe and South America contains worrisome amounts of lead, Science Daily reported in a press release.
The highest amounts were seen in rice that comes from China and Taiwan. Significantly high levels were also found in samples from the Czech Republic, Bhutan, Italy, India and Thailand.
The US Food and Drug Administration told BBC News that it would look at the new research. Lead is harmful to the human body, and the younger a person is the more sensitive they are to its toxic effects. The research found that in some cases, the rice contained 120 times the amount of lead considered safe by the FDA.
Lead researcher Dr. Tsanangurayi Tongesayi of Monmouth University in New Jersey says that consumers shouldn't avoid rice, but instead put pressure on lawmakers. "We just hope that our results will inform public policy and will be used to create stricter regulations on lead in rice, or be used to come up with eating advisories like [those] with mercury in fish,” he told Time.