Rice is a staple for many people worldwide, and is often fed to babies in the form of rice cereal. Since it is grown under flooded conditions, rice absorbs inorganic arsenic from soil minerals. It typically contains 10 times more inorganic arsenic than other foods. The European Food Standards Authority has warned that people who eat a lot of rice, are exposed to worrying concentrations. Chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic has been linked to developmental problems, heart disease, diabetes, nervous system damage, and cancer. Researchers in Northern Ireland have now found a way to remove the inorganic arsenic by cooking rice the way coffee is brewed.
The study said, "A percolator that cooks rice by passing hot water through it, rather than boiling it in a pot, was able to remove 85% of the grains' cancer-causing inorganic arsenic."
Andy Meharg, professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at Queen's University in Belfast's Institute for Global Food Security, said, "This is a very significant breakthrough as this offers an immediate solution to decreasing inorganic arsenic in the diet. We discovered that by using percolating technology, where cooking water is continually passed through rice in a constant flow, we could maximize removal of arsenic. Queen's is seeking a patent for its rice cooking percolation system, which means consumers could soon have this technology in their own kitchen."
The study is published in the PLOS ONE.