Lawmakers seek limits on arsenic in rice

WASHINGTON Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:03pm EDT

A boy eats a bowl of rice at a soup kitchen in Berlin October 16, 2006. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

A boy eats a bowl of rice at a soup kitchen in Berlin October 16, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three lawmakers are introducing a bill on Friday to limit the amount of arsenic allowed in rice and rice-based products, a legislator said.

The move comes after Consumer Reports urged limits for arsenic in rice. Tests of more than 60 products, from Kellogg's Rice Krispies to Gerber infant cereal, showed most had some inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen in humans.

The proposed RICE Act - Reducing food-based Inorganic and organic Compounds Exposure Act - requires the Food and Drug Administration to set a maximum level of arsenic in rice and food containing rice.

Democratic lawmakers Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Nita Lowey of New York are introducing the measure in the House of Representatives.

"This is not the first time we have been alerted to the dangers of arsenic, and quite simply we must do more to ensure that our food supply is safe," DeLauro said in a statement.

There are no federal standards for arsenic in most foods, including rice and rice-based products. South Korea has temporarily halted imports and domestic sales of U.S. rice, citing concerns about possible arsenic contamination.

The RICE Act could face a tough road to passage since it was introduced by Democratic lawmakers in a bitterly partisan chamber with a Republican majority.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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