A New Rice Purity Test
A rice purity test was first carried out in Japan in 1908 and has since been adopted by many other countries to verify the percentage of imported rice that contains unwanted strains of the fungus Oryza sativa (rice).
To accomplish this, small samples of grain are removed from bags at random and inspected microscopically to detect grains of Oryza barthii or other foreign matter such as beans, bran, and weed seeds.
What is rice grown in
The water used in growing rice should be checked for levels of mercury and arsenic. Some areas of Japan have much higher rates of mercury and arsenic contamination than others. Rice grown in such an area could prove more harmful than beneficial to your health.
To ensure you are buying rice grown in safe water, ask your local grocery store if they can provide you with information about their rice’s source. If not, look for a different store. Rice labeled organic is most likely grown in water free from heavy metals. Rice labeled irradiated or sterilized is probably best avoided altogether as it has been treated with radiation and is less nutritious than other rice varieties. Rice marked product of the USA may contain high levels of mercury and arsenic depending on where it was grown.
Rice imported from China may also contain high amounts of these toxins so try to avoid rice imported from China whenever possible. Also, note that rice labeled enriched may actually be lower in nutrients due to additives used during processing. It is important to check your rice packaging carefully before purchasing any rice products.
Also, always buy brown rice over white because brown rice contains more nutrients and fiber which help prevent certain diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. White rice lacks many essential vitamins and minerals making it inferior to brown rice. When possible, choose non-GMO (genetically modified organism) rice because GMO foods have yet to be proven safe for human consumption.
This type of rice is especially good for those who suffer from food allergies since GMO foods are highly unlikely to cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to gluten or soybeans since there is no gluten or soybeans present in non-GMO foods.
One final thing to consider when choosing rice is whether or not it has been polished. Rice naturally contains small amounts of oil which give it its glossy appearance but some brands of rice have had all traces of oil removed through polishing leaving them dull looking and devoid of flavor.
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While some people prefer polished rice, others claim that unpolished rice makes better-tasting dishes. Choose whichever kind appeals to you most! Just remember that some types are healthier than others so keep reading labels and make sure you get what you want! Once you find rice that suits your tastes, don’t forget to cook it properly. Different rice varieties require different cooking times and techniques so follow package instructions closely.
Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice but still cooks faster than wild rice. Wild rice takes even longer to cook than brown rice but requires a very specific cooking method called parboiling which involves soaking uncooked grains in boiling water for 30 minutes prior to boiling them again until tender. Parboiling is necessary to remove excess phytic acid in wild rice.
Phytic acid can block the absorption of iron and zinc causing nutritional deficiencies. By removing phytic acid through parboiling, you will increase your body’s ability to absorb iron and zinc. Cooking rice improperly can lead to illness and discomfort so take care to follow cooking directions precisely. You can use rice in a variety of ways.
For example, you can add it to soups and stews, use it in place of breadcrumbs to coat chicken or fish, mix it into meatloaf or burgers for added texture and crunch, and add it to your favorite stir fry recipes or simply eat it plain. Rice is one of nature’s perfect foods so enjoy it!
The new test is an ion-exchange chromatography method for detecting dioxins, PCBs, and other contaminants in rice. Dioxins are a family of about 30 highly toxic chemicals that can cause cancer and other health problems. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are synthetic chemicals that were once widely used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment but have been banned since 1979 because they accumulate in animals’ fatty tissue and appear to be carcinogenic.
Both dioxins and PCBs are known to cause reproductive and developmental problems. Rice is one of our main dietary sources of these toxins, which we mainly get from eating meat, fish, and dairy products contaminated with animal fats. In developing countries like Vietnam where rice consumption is high, many people exceed their lifetime limit for exposure to these toxins every year just by eating rice—and children exposed in utero may suffer permanent damage.
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Testing rice is therefore important for human health. But so far no standard methods have been available to detect dioxins and PCBs in rice, partly because conventional tests cannot easily distinguish between them and other compounds that look similar. That makes it hard to determine whether any detected compounds came from naturally occurring background levels or from industrial pollution caused by humans.
So although governments around the world have set safety limits for rice contamination, there has been no easy way to enforce those limits. Now researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing and collaborators at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) in Bangkok have developed a simple technique that allows them to identify both dioxins and PCBs in rice samples quickly and accurately. They describe their work in a paper published online today in Analytical Chemistry.
The new method works by exploiting differences between how dioxins and PCBs bind to resins inside ion-exchange columns. It also uses two resins, each optimized for binding either dioxin or PCB molecules. By running rice samples through two columns sequentially, one optimized for each compound class, the team was able to separate out all of the different types of contaminant molecules present in each sample.
They then measured concentrations of both classes using mass spectrometry, which can identify compounds based on their molecular weights. In lab tests with spiked rice samples, they were able to quantify both dioxins and PCBs down to levels as low as 10 parts per trillion (equivalent to a single grain of sand in an Olympic-sized swimming pool). That’s well below limits set by international food safety standards for rice products such as baby cereal.
We’re very confident that we can detect these contaminants at very low levels, so it should be possible to enforce national regulations that are already in place, says MSU analytical chemist Joseph DeRisi, who led the study. The next step is to test our method on real rice samples from Thailand and other countries where contamination is known to be a problem.
We hope that will happen soon. The researchers have received funding from USAID, a federal agency focused on international development. But because most people living in developing countries eat rice every day, DeRisi says he hopes that companies like General Mills and Kellogg which sell rice-based foods such as cereals and crackers to consumers around the world will support further research into testing methods like his.
Rice is something everybody eats; it would be great if we could develop a tool that helps us make sure rice grown anywhere in the world is safe for human consumption.
This work was supported by grants from USAID/NRI and NSF. Mihir Zaveri, who participated in research while at MSU but is now at Columbia University, was also supported by NIH Grant GM101424.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID/NRI or NSF. Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years.
One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.
How can I avoid pesticides?
It’s impossible to avoid pesticides entirely, but certain foods tend to have more pesticide residues than others. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes an annual list of dirty dozen and clean fifteen fruits and vegetables based on their level of pesticide residue.
Apples, for example, top EWG’s dirty dozen list, with a shocking 78 different pesticides found on one sample; avocados are cleanest with only one trace of pesticide. You can also minimize your exposure by choosing organic produce whenever possible. If you don’t have access to organic produce, try peeling or thoroughly washing non-organic produce before eating it—this can help remove some of the chemicals that accumulate in plant tissues.
Additionally, be sure to wash all fruits and veggies under running water before eating them raw. This will remove any residual pesticides from outer surfaces, which is where most contaminants end up. When cooking products like potatoes, broccoli, or green beans, steam them rather than boiling them—boiling causes more surface area to come into contact with water and potentially allows more contaminants into your food. And when buying meat, opt for grass-fed varieties whenever possible.
These meats contain less fat and fewer toxins overall. If you eat fish regularly, buy wild-caught varieties as opposed to farm-raised fish, as these tend to contain fewer contaminants due to differences in diet and living conditions. And lastly, avoid microwave popcorn: The bag lining often contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a synthetic chemical linked to cancer and other health problems.
Microwave popcorn bags typically contain about 400 parts per billion of PFOA, while studies suggest that levels above 150 parts per billion may pose risks to human health. Instead, make your own air-popped popcorn using a brown paper lunch bag and two tablespoons of oil. Just add three tablespoons of kernels to each bag and fold over twice before heating in a microwave until there are three seconds between pops (about two minutes).
No chemicals and no additives. You can also use plain parchment paper instead of brown paper bags if you prefer. As always, remember to carefully read ingredient lists and do not use artificial flavorings or sweeteners in your homemade snacks. And if you want added buttery goodness, feel free to drizzle on some real butter once your popcorn is done popping. Use a stick of real butter and melt it in a small bowl in your microwave.
Once melted, pour your hot popcorn into a bowl and drizzle on your melted butter. Stir to coat evenly, then enjoy! In addition to being safer, real butter tastes way better than margarine or fake butter products. Butter has been around for thousands of years and has become such a mainstay in our diets because of its unique taste and amazing nutritional profile.
Real butter is a rich source of vitamins A, D, E, and K2. In fact, one tablespoon of butter provides 30 percent of your daily value for vitamin A and 10 percent for vitamin K2. And it’s also a great source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a nutrient that may reduce your risk of heart disease and obesity. Enjoying real butter in moderation can actually improve your health—so go ahead and indulge every now and then.
Is my rice safe to eat?
According to new research from Japan, there may be a way for your body to answer that question. Rice accounts for about one-fifth of calories consumed in most countries but contains arsenic, a heavy metal that can cause cancer and other health problems when ingested over time.
This problem is especially prevalent in parts of Asia where high levels of arsenic are found in soil and water. To address these issues, scientists have developed a new rice purity test that checks whether rice has been tainted with heavy metals.
The findings were published recently in Analytical Chemistry, a journal of The American Chemical Society. The researchers hope their rice purity test will help ensure consumers get safe food to eat. Rice has been eaten as a staple food for more than 4,000 years. Nowadays, it’s popular not only in Asian countries but also throughout Europe and North America.
However, some rice contains arsenic—and too much of it can lead to health problems. In particular, long-term exposure to arsenic can increase the risk for skin, bladder, and lung cancers; heart disease; type 2 diabetes; neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease; and adverse effects on babies during pregnancy.
Rice isn’t inherently toxic—it just absorbs naturally occurring toxins from contaminated soils or water. But rice growers can reduce or eliminate arsenic by changing farming practices. For example, they can grow rice in fields far away from rivers where runoff containing arsenic occurs.
They can also use fertilizer made without phosphate rock, which tends to contain higher amounts of arsenic than phosphate rock produced elsewhere. Rice plants absorb less arsenic if they’re grown using organic methods instead of synthetic fertilizers. But how do you know if rice is safe? That’s what Japanese researchers aimed to find out through a newly developed rice purity test. We need an easy and inexpensive method to check rice quality before consumption, said study coauthor Yuki Ogawa, Ph.D., who conducted her research at Okayama University in Japan while a graduate student at Kyoto University.
Our method would allow people to check rice quickly before buying it or cooking it at home. Their method relies on nanoparticles called quantum dots (QDs). Quantum dots are semiconductor crystals that glow different colors depending on their size.
By measuring how brightly QDs light up after being added to rice samples, scientists can determine how much arsenic is present. The team used three different sizes of QDs and measured light emission after adding each size to 10 rice samples containing varying amounts of arsenic.
As expected, they saw a clear correlation between size and amount: Smaller QDs glowed brighter when added to rice with more arsenic, whereas larger ones glowed brighter in samples with less arsenic. The method was so sensitive that it could detect arsenic at a concentration of 0.05 micrograms per gram of rice, or roughly 1/1,000th of a teaspoon in a half cup of rice.
Although that’s still considered unsafe for human consumption, it’s significantly lower than what is currently allowed in U.S. and European markets: 200 micrograms per gram for white rice and 300 micrograms per gram for brown rice.
These results can be used as a reference point for future rice purity tests. Since they are simple and efficient, these tests are especially useful in areas where scientific resources are scarce. Rice is a staple food crop for over half of humanity it’s extremely important that people have access to safe rice at all times.
This new test will make it much easier to ensure that farmers growing rice do not sell contaminated crops onto international markets. The good news is that there are now several methods available to check rice purity before purchasing. All you need is a sample and some basic lab equipment!
Rice has been an essential part of human diets since its domestication more than 5000 years ago.
Today, more than 50% of the global population depends on rice as their primary source of calories; making it one of our most important crops worldwide. In addition to providing food for humans, rice is also used to feed livestock and fish—making it a vital resource for many countries around the world. Rice is grown in over 100 countries and accounts for 20% of global caloric intake.
The majority of rice consumed by humans comes from China (50%), India (15%), Indonesia (7%), and Bangladesh (6%). Rice is also widely cultivated in Africa: Nigeria, Tanzania, Mali, and Madagascar are among the top exporters of rice in Africa.
However, rice consumption varies greatly between regions. For example, people living in Asia consume 5 times more rice per capita than people living in Europe or North America. This is mainly due to cultural preferences rice is a staple food crop in Asia while wheat or corn are preferred grain in Western nations. Rice consumption can be divided into three main categories: long-grain white rice, medium-grain brown rice, and short-grain brown rice.
While all rice varieties have high nutritional value, each type contains different proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Long-grain white rice is lower in fiber content than other types of rice. It’s also easier to digest and less likely to cause digestive problems when compared with other types of rice. Medium-grain brown rice contains more fiber than long-grain white rice but less fiber than short-grain brown rice.
Brown rice is generally considered healthier than white rice because it contains more nutrients and fiber. Brown rice is also easier to digest than white rice and therefore better tolerated by people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or gluten intolerance.
Short-grain brown rice is higher in protein and fat content than long-grain white rice but lower in protein content than medium-grain brown rice. Short grain brown rice does not contain gluten so it’s suitable for people who suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance.