On Wednesday, September 20, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the release of preliminary data on sampling the agency had done to determine the presence of arsenic in rice and rice products. This news has generated concern within the celiac and gluten-intolerant communities as rice is the most common grain used in gluten-free products and individuals following a gluten-free diet are likely to consume more rice-based products than the average American.

Earlier this year, Consumer Reports (CR) tested rice and rice based products and found measurable amounts of both inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen, as well as organic arsenic, less toxic but still of concern, in those samples. This information lead the FDA to undertake its own study sampling significantly more products, and to share the early findings. While arsenic is found in foods throughout the food chain, in their natural state, or when processed into other products, it is not known where the threshold of safety ends and harm begins. The FDA indicates it is moving to gather and analyze the data necessary to make sound scientific judgments regarding the levels which may cause potential health risks. The ACDA is urging the FDA to act expeditiously as Americans with celiac disease and gluten-intolerance may be at greater risk of danger as a result of following a gluten-free diet.

At this time, the science does not exist for the ACDA to make a recommendation regarding the consumption of rice or rice based products for persons with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. However, we do recommend that individuals following a gluten-free diet consume a diverse diet that incorporates a broad range of whole grains such as corn, quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, and buckwheat, into their diet in an effort to maximize nutrition.

Source: American Celiac Disease Alliance