There has been some concern from members regarding a recent study about the presence of arsenic in rice and rice based products. You may be aware that I was interviewed on Newstalk recently to discuss this and other matters. You can listen to the interview here.
We are aware that those on a gluten free diet often consume larger quantities of rice, as it is a gluten free cereal, but it should be noted that the study in question (“The Unintended Consequences of a Gluten-Free Diet”, published in Epidemiology) had a relatively small sample size of 73 people self-declared on a gluten free diet out of a total of 7,471 participants. Details of participant diets were not reported e.g. were they diagnosed as coeliac, on a self-prescribed diet, its duration and compliance. Results show a larger amount of arsenic in people on a gluten free diet, but the difference versus those on a gluten containing diet was not significant.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has looked at the risk of arsenic poisoning in Europe and assessed that the risk is very low. However some groups in the population have relatively higher intakes of rice. This includes infants and young children so limits have been set for rice and rice products aimed at infants since 2015. There are also maximum allowed levels for drinking water in the EU.
We continue to monitor this research and will keep you updated on any further developments.
Chief Executive, Coeliac Society of Ireland