Arsenic In Rice - Another Day In The Life For This Gluten-Free Girl

A gluten-free diet can be challenging at times all on it's own. But lately, it seems every other day there's something horrible we're finding out about some of the foods we are able to eat on a gluten-free diet. The GMO's in corn and soy. Then we're warned to be careful about quinoa because it may have been carried in bags once used for barley or oats during harvesting. Watch out for strawberries - if there was a chance of frost and they were grown on an organic farm, they might have been covered with wheat straw. Already being on a limited diet and then adding more things to avoid can be almost maddening at times.

Celeste's Best Gluten-Free Flour Mix

When I created my flour mix, I went to great lengths to create a mix that was safe as well as beneficial for most people to eat. I used the Eat Right for Your Blood Type database to pick flours for the mix that all could eat. I carefully chose flours that people seemed to have the least reaction to for the most part. 

Rice to me was a safe food. A food that had been consumed for years. And I listened to all the nutritionists who claimed that brown rice was better for you and included that into the mix.

Arsenic in Rice and the Gluten-Free Diet

I read the Consumer's Report post about the arsenic in rice when it first came out. Then while researching I came across a post stating that it was mainly a worry if your rice was grown in the lower, southern states where cotton was once farmed heavily. But if your rice was grown in California or some of the northern states, it wasn't much of a concern.

But now that the dust has settled after the move, I'm checking into this further and there is some reason to be concerned about the arsenic in rice no matter where it's grown. So we as a family have begun to make some changes.

To find out more about arsenic, read my post - What is Arsenic and What is It Doing in My Gluten-Free Rice?

One Easy Change

I've eliminated the brown rice from Celeste's Best Gluten-Free Flour Mix. I now prepare the mix with just white rice flour. I substitute white rice flour for the brown rice flour. Recent copies of my cookbook no longer include this flour.

Brown rice has been found to have higher levels of arsenic. The arsenic concentrates in the outer layers of a grain and polishing rice to produce white rice removes those surface layers - the bran and the husk, which somewhat reduces the total arsenic and inorganic arsenic in the grain. 

Limiting Rice in Your Diet

This research into rice made me realize there was actually a large amount of rice in my diet. Rice protein each day in my morning shake, rice milk, rice in my flour mix, brown rice in my pasta and rice as a side dish.

So now I don't use rice protein in my shake and only use chia seed. I now make my milk out of a combination of white rice flour and sweet rice flour. 

We're not using any brown rice pastas anymore. We're only using the white pasta from Tinkyada.

We use organic white rice flour. I am not a fan of brown rice because it contains phytic acid. See link for more information 

* Something to note: After cooking any rice pasta, I have always rinsed the pasta to remove any extra starch. Rinsing rice and rice pastas after cooking further reduces the arsenic levels in it. 

Eliminate Brown Rice for Now

So my main goal is really to eliminate all the brown rice from our diet completely until they rectify this and grow the rice in a controlled situation with filtered, clean water. It can be done. Rice actually does not need to be flooded to grow, just kept wet.

Mighty Rice is one company that is doing that now. And they're ArsenicSAFE Certified. 

A Happy Husband

My husband has never been a fan of brown rice, so he's pretty happy right now. He loves the new white rice flour mix and he's even more delighted that he won't have to endure brown rice as a side dish anymore. 

Have any of you decided to change your diet based on this latest research? Leave a comment below and tell us how. 

Image Credit: Brown Rice in Bowl ©maya picture/

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Reader Comments from my Previous Website:

Well, here's another day in the life - I thought I would get the white rice with the lowest arsenic levels which would be white basmati rice from India. Then I read this

I mean it really could make a person wonder if any food is safe anymore.

I want to start by saying thank you for all of the work & research that you do on this front. My sister is newly diagnosed with Celiacs & I am transitioning my household to allergen free & non GMO in an attempt to affect some "behaviors" that concern me in my children. Your book is AMAZING!

I have a question about the FDA basati rice concern.....would you not expect insect & animal particulates?? I mean I know it sounds gross but they are part of nature & would washing & cooking not handle the problem? I hope this is not an inexperienced question :) if so I apologize.

December 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermalinda garner


First I want to say that I think it's great that you're learning so much about this for your sister and your children. That's terrific. And especially with children, often gluten and other allergens can affect behavior. I've often wondered how many children with behavior issues weren't actually children with undiagnosed food allergies or intolerances. And GMOs probably affect us more than we realize, too.

And you're right there's a certain amount of insect particulates that will wind up in foods like rice. I guess that's somewhat expected. My concern was that this Basmati rice from India had been flagged by the FDA for having over the "normal" expected amount. And truthfully, I don't know how much insect and rodent filth can be washed or cooked away. I wrote that comment during a week where it seemed every food I was eating was being talked about in the news and I was frustrated trying to figure out which foods were actually safe anymore.

I use Lundberg Rice which is grown in California. And happy to say I've never found anything other than rice in the bag. And it's available in most grocery store chains now.

Having a supportive family is what every celiac hopes to have. This past week my sister's husband took the time to cook a meal that was safe for me to eat. I wrote about it in my post "Cooking Gluten-Free Meals for Guests". He made the Lemon Herb Chicken. It's a recipe that's not in the cookbook. Very easy to prepare and delicious. The links to both posts can be found in the column on the right.

Feel free to ask questions, that's how we all learn. :) Thanks, too, for your comments about my cookbook!

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