(Wolf Blitzer) Dr. Coughlin I think what Mr. Cook is trying to convey as a major concern is the lack of trust between the consumers and the FDA. If arsenic contamination in food has been documented for a long time, why is there no regulatory mechanism that should define the daily intake of arsenic?
(Dr. Coughlin) The US Rice Federation and the FDA have witnessed no cases of arsenic poisoning or cancer or any other ailment; despite this we have been extremely vigilant for more than three decades. The level of arsenic typically found in food is largely considered to be benign, since background levels in food have not caused reported health effects, including cancer. Further, there is overwhelming food safety, nutritional, scientific and medical evidence that supports that diets rich in fruits, vegetables and grains are tremendously beneficial to the health of consumers (US Rice Federation). Moreover, it is extremely difficult to measure and standardize the arsenic exposure of every person as it varies from person to person owing to their dietary habits and the groundwater constitution of their area (U S Environmental Protection Agency ).
(Wolf Blitzer) So we cannot expect a detailed analysis of arsenic levels in common food items that use rice for their preparation?
(Dr. Coughlin) I can tell you with confidence that the US Rice Federation, the FDA and the US Department of Agriculture have been extremely conscious of the arsenic contamination whether organic or inorganic and have been looking into the arsenic concentration in vegetables, grains, and even meat and poultry products (Jelinek and Corneliussen). However, the US Rice Federation has found that the 80% more arsenic exposure takes place with the consumption of water as compared to that of food based exposure. The arsenic level calculated safe for human consumption is 10 ppb and that equals to a drop in 2 gallons of water (US Rice Federation).