Discovery of rice as the major dietary source of inorganic arsenic

  • Andrew Alexander Meharg (Coordinator)

Impact: Public policy Impacts

Description of impact

Research by Professor Andrew Meharg at the University of Aberdeen was the first to show that rice constituted the major source of dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic, a class 1, non-threshold carcinogen, meaning that there is no dose that is risk-free. This research directly led to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) undertaking a major review of arsenic in foods. The EU, USA and WHO lack standards for arsenic in food, but all three are now actively seeking to set standards. Subsequent to the Aberdeen studies, the WHO withdrew its standard for arsenic Provisional Tolerable Daily Intake, considering it too high. Also, as a direct result of this work, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued warnings that children under 4 should avoid rice milks because of their inorganic arsenic content.
Impact statusOpen
Category of impactPublic policy Impacts