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How to remove arsenic from rice when cooking

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified arsenic as a Group 1 carcinogen. Arsenic is water soluble. Rice contains naturally high levels of arsenic, a toxin which can be fatal to humans.

WE have read news that rice contains arsenic but some experts said the toxin levels are tolerable and were discarded upon washing and cooking.

The toxic chemical accumulated naturally in the crop and has been linked to illness, dietary-related cancers and liver disease, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Rice, which is often grown in rice paddies, soaks up to 10 times more arsenic from the soil than other cereals. It is stored mostly in the outer casing of rice, which is what gives brown variants a higher concentration than white.

Arsenic gets into rice as it is water soluble and soaks into the crop.

Arsenic occurs naturally in the soil, though its concentration is higher in areas that have historically used arsenic-based herbicides or where irrigation water contains arsenic.

When farmers grow crops like rice under flooded conditions, arsenic is drawn out of the soil and into the water.

A rice plant is like a big tube or a straw as it draws water up from its roots to its leaves.

Rice naturally takes up arsenic because the arsenic mimics other molecules that these plants preferentially draw out of the soil.

But experts have revealed the best way to remove it from the crop during cooking.

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By boiling fresh water before putting in the rice and then draining the water just five minute later gets rid of most of the arsenic.

People should then finish cooking the rice by adding fresh water, turning the heat down and putting a lid on the saucepan.

Here are the steps to get rid of arsenic in rice: 1) boil fresh water; 2) put rice into saucepan; 3) drain off the water just five minute later; 4) finish cooking the rice by adding fresh water and turning the heat down and putting a lid on the saucepan.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield discovered this parboiling method as the most effective way of slashing arsenic levels in the dish.

According to experts, the maximum safe level of arsenic exposure is eight micrograms per kg of body weight every day.

People exceeding three kilograms (6.6lbs) of white rice and 2.4 kg (5.3lbs) of brown rice every day breach this threshold, which can lead to lung, skin and bladder cancer.

However, while removing the harmful toxin from the rice, the method keeps hold of all the nutrients the crop possesses.

The method used in the study removes over 50 per cent of the naturally occurring arsenic in brown rice.

The study was published in Science of the Total Environment. (DailyMail)