Food safety: What’s lurking in rice? (Marketplace)

Food safety: What’s lurking in rice? (Marketplace)


[♪♪♪] [Makda] We’re collecting toenail
clippings from some very cute babies and their moms. But what we are looking
for is not so cute. It’s a toxin that study after
study finds can be especially harmful for young children
and could affect their growth and development. I’m a little worried
because again, I wasn’t aware. [Makda] These little ones
are less than a year old. This is Aidan and
he’s 11 months. This is Joshua,
he’s ten months old. This is Kayleen and she’s
almost seven months old. [Makda] So really, how much
could they have been exposed to already? To find out, we are shipping
their clippings to a lab. Who’s got more toxins in them? The grownups, or babies? And in the meantime, we
prepare for our next experiment, testing baby food. We hit major grocery
chains around Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. Tossing infant
cereals into our cart, a few different kinds. Rice, oatmeal,
barley, ancient grains. We grab some
popular snacks, too. Mum Mums, mini rice
cakes, and puffs. You can’t forget the
puffs, toddlers love these. [Makda] In our buggy, the
biggest baby food brands. Gerber, Heinz, PC Organics,
Parent’s Choice, Mum Mums, Love
Child, and Baby Gourmet. Fifty packages of baby
cereal and snacks in total. We are shipping all this baby
food to Brooks Applied Labs near Seattle. The lab’s assignment? Testing the products for
something and not on the label. Arsenic. And we are concerned about
cereals and snacks full of one particular ingredient. Rice flour. Organic white rice. Brown rice. Yep, rice. Because research shows it’s got
more arsenic than other grains. But just how high
are the levels? And which products in our
test have the most arsenic? And you’re probably
wondering how this toxin gets into the rice. Well, first, let’s start here… These rice plants have popped! [Makda] ..with how
the grain is grown. You watched me drain the
winter waters off these fields in February. [Makda] Matthew Sligar, a
California rice farmer, breaks down for us on YouTube. [Matthew ] In April you were
there when we broke the ground and prepared the
ground for planting. We heard the buzz of crop
dusters applying the seeds in May. We admired together how the rice
grew beautiful and green through the summer. In September and October we
harvested the crop and were rewarded for the hard work. [Makda] And here’s the rice. Rough rice, untouched. Brown rice with the
top layer removed, bran stays on. White rice, it’s polished off. More than any other crop, rice
soaks up arsenic from the soil and the water it’s flooded in. Arsenic comes in many forms. And can be naturally occurring,
or come from industrial and agricultural runoff. The most harmful kind
is inorganic arsenic. It is the most toxic and that is
why some researchers worry those who eat a lot of rice might
increase their risk of heart disease and cancer. And for babies, there’s
that added risk of harm for brain development. Hi, hello! [Makda] But then why is rice
often a baby’s first food? Why rice snacks
and rice cereals? Initially it was because it
was recommended by my doctor. Soothing for the
stomach, I guess. They just say, like,
iron fortified cereal. What does your doctor say? Start off with rice cereal. What did you think about that? It was exciting that it
was her first solid food, so as a parent I mean it’s a
nice milestone to go through. [Makda] Start with rice? For more on the truth about
this grain we go to New York to meet award-winning
author Marion Nestle. Professor of Nutrition,
Food Studies, and Public Health at
New York University. Some of the parents that we
talked to said their doctors recommended rice cereal
as baby’s first food. What do you think about that? I think doctors should know that
rice cereal contains levels of arsenic that are potentially
dangerous to babies and they should be making
different recommendations. But how are doctors
supposed to know about it? This is not something
that’s talked about. You said you fed it
to your children? I did, that was
quite a long time ago. You’ve learned
better since then? As more and more information
has come out about the amount of arsenic in rice cereal, there’s
particularly a concern for children because they are
young and small and growing. And it affects their
cognitive function. And it’s better to
have less than more. We don’t know what a
safe level of arsenic is. That means less is better. [Makda] Our first set
of results is in. Measured in parts per billion,
so that’s like dividing 1 kilogram into a
billion micrograms. And when it comes to infant
cereals there is little arsenic in barley, 6 parts per billion. Oatmeal, 9. Ancient grains, 11. Not much to worry about there. But when it comes to rice
cereals that number jumps. Take a look at the ones we test. Three packages of each,
and here are the averages. Heinz at 97 parts per billion. Gerber plain rice, 49. And the cereal we test
with the most arsenic, Baby Gourmet creamy brown rice
with about 500 parts per billion of total arsenic. And some experts say that
is something to worry about. Doesn’t that look
healthy and wonderful? And it’s organic. I’m greatly in
favour of organic, and it is whole-grain, I’m
greatly in favour of whole-grain baby cereal for beginners. It looks like a
terrific product. And how would anybody have any
idea how much arsenic is in it? And get this, though brown
rice is more nutritious, often it has more arsenic. You would not be
that to your child? Absolutely not. [Makda] In Belfast, one
of the world’s leading arsenic experts agrees. Andrew Meharg, he’s been
studying the chemical for decades and we ask him to
also review our test results. What stood out for you? They were really
quite concerning, we don’t come across
such high levels in baby food products in Europe. [Makda] There could be
a reason for that. Arsenic is toxic but inorganic
arsenic is much more toxic and that’s why in 2016 Europe set
a legal limit of 100 parts per billion of inorganic arsenic in
all rice based foods for babies and toddlers. The Heinz and Gerber rice
cereals we test are below that level. Both companies tell us they take
the quality and food safety of their products seriously
and do routine tests. And remember the Baby Gourmet we
tested has 500 parts per billion of total arsenic. 125 of that is inorganic. That number shocks Meharg. Should parents be concerned? The products that you’ve
shown me well exceed the EU safety standards. I think the EU safety standards
themselves are not high enough, so I’d be really quite
concerned at that exceedance. So would that cereal
be sold in Europe? No, it would be illegal. It would be illegal? It would have to be withdrawn. [Makda] We bring our moms
together to share our findings. Very surprised. [Makda] Why? Because creamy brown rice is a
cereal that I have fed to my older son before. I still feed that
one to my baby, and we are just finishing up. Now I’m thinking maybe we
should just stop altogether now. [Makda] And that’s not the only
baby food we find that could be illegal in Europe. There’s those PC puffs. So how many of you
by PC Organic brands? Hands up. Okay, so about half the group. PC Organics. Charlotte, why? It’s a very affordable one. It claims that they are organic
which means that you think you’re picking a
healthier option. [Makda] In our test PC Organic
puffs actually have the most inorganic arsenic. On average, 170
parts per billion. Remember, the EU limit is 100. So when you do see these
levels, what are you thinking? I’m thinking they should not be
in baby foods and the doctors are not doing a very good job
making baby foods are safe. So you are saying these
baby foods are not safe? I do not recommend giving
children food products with such high levels of arsenic in them. They are not safe. [Makda] And here is the thing. Those two products
he’s talking about, creamy brown rice
cereal and rice puffs, are both Canadian. Baby Gourmet and PC are
both Canadian companies. What do you guys
think about that? Yeah, I’ll definitely try
and alternative and switch to something else. I actually feel a
little betrayed. [Makda] And remember
those toenail clippings we shipped off? Well, the results are here. So, who has more
arsenic in them, these parents, or their babies? Come on up and
get your envelopes. That answer is in
those envelopes, and orange means more. Please put your baby’s
envelope in the air. One, two, three,
four, five, six, and seven orange
envelopes for the babies. I hear a lot of uh-oh. [ Laughter ] [Makda] Uh-oh because most
of the babies have more arsenic in their
toenails than their moms. That’s not good because they
have higher arsenic than we do. [Makda] Pound for pound, babies actually eat a lot
more than adults and studies show that could mean two
to three times the concentration of arsenic in
their little bodies. Experts tell us there’s no
immediate health concerns for these babies. But less exposure to
arsenic is better, which is why companies need
to be careful with baby food. So what would you tell parents
about serving rice snacks and cereals to their children? They are not an appropriate
food to feed to children, full stop. Really? Really. Check out the full results
on our website for other snacks we test. All have arsenic in them, but
less than the EU limit for baby food. [Makda] This is
your Marketplace. [♪♪♪] 50 packages, popular
brands in the mix. Seven different
kinds of cereals. Seven different snacks. Testing for arsenic. One ingredient makes
all the difference, rice. All the baby food made with
rice had more arsenic than those without. And two stood out. With levels so high, they
would be banned in Europe. There’s no debate,
arsenic can be toxic. We see increased rates of
cancer in those populations with elevated arsenic in drinking
water and the body does not discriminate once
it’s in the stomach, whether the arsenic comes from
drinking water or from rice. But if rice has been a staple
for generations in many parts of the world why is
it a problem now? Is a problem now because
we know about it now. Once you discover a problem you
can’t put that back under the carpet and hide it. We should do something about it. [Makda] What can we do about it? We are in the rice and
duck capital of the world. Our answer might be on
a farm in Stuttgart, Arkansas. How long has your
family been growing rice? Been growing rice since 1944. That is a long time. Yeah. Rice farmer Chris Isabell
is working with aniversity researchers to grow rice in
more sustainable and safer ways. What goes into
being a rice farmer? A lot of blood,
sweat, and tears. Risk. We want to make money, sure, but
in the end we feed people and we are proud of that. [Makda] And although like
most farmers he questions the research around arsenic exposures through rice
he is still looking for ways to minimize it. Let’s talk about solutions. What can farmers do to reduce
the level of arsenic in rice? We can do what is called
alternate wetting and drying. [Makda] That means the field
isn’t constantly flooded and less arsenic
travels up the crop. It’s not the traditional
way of growing rice, but this new
technique is promising. If you are doing it, should
other farmers be doing the same thing? It will be harder
for some than others. So you are using less
water, saving costs, and possibly reducing the
level of arsenic in the rice? Yes, but with more work. Is it worth it? I think so. [Makda] The US government
might think so, too. At this research centre in
Arkansas scientist are trying to develop rice varieties that
would actually push arsenic into parts that we don’t eat
like the stem and leaf. And in 2016 the FDA released
a guideline for industry. All rice cereals for
infants should be below 100 parts per billion. It’s working, testing in the US
reveals arsenic levels in some baby rice cereal are going down. And what about the
companies, can they do more? They can source
low-arsenic rice, they can develop their cooking
and processing approaches to remove arsenic from rice, and
they can use alternatives to rice for baby foods. So if they can reduce
the arsenic why is it not being done? You’d have to ask the
manufacturers that, not me. [Makda] And so we do ask them. But Baby Gourmet
and PC Organics, both Canadian companies,
won’t talk on camera and send statements. It is like a blanket statement
that they are making. But if they are working towards
minimizing the levels then at least that is the first step. They don’t really have a
responsibility if no one holds it against them. And so our government should
be held responsible to do that. We need regulations. Bottom line, we
need regulations, in my opinion. [Makda] So where are
those regulations? We head to Ottawa for answers. Hi there, Dr Sharma.
I am Makda. Nice to meet you. [Makda] And meet with health
Canada’s Chief Medical Advisor, Dr Supriya Sharma. She’s also a pediatrician. What can you tell to parents
about what they expect when it comes to limits of arsenic
in the rice cereal? So what I would tell parents
is exactly what I tell parents as a pediatrician. To say that rice, fortified
rice cereal can be part of a balanced diet. It doesn’t have to be the first
cereal or grain that a baby eats, but rice, just
like anything else, should be in moderation,
especially for children. The parents that we talked to
said their children are eating this every day, even
several times a day, and the arsenic levels in
these products are higher. I would say you can
have rice cereal, but be aware that brown
rice cereals and unhusked rice cereals can have higher levels
of arsenic so those you would want to limit even more
than white rice products. These products
remain on the shelves, and these products would
not be allowed in Europe. So what would you have to say
to parents that are out there shopping for this? So the question is, do we have
similar products on the market in Europe and in
the US and Canada, and the answer is yes. Are they usually low
levels of arsenic, yes. Are we concerned about
that want them to be even lower, absolutely. But I think we shouldn’t
unnecessarily concern parents or make them think that we have
higher levels of arsenic in foods for babies here in
Canada than in other places. Is setting a legal limit for the
amount of arsenic in baby foods a priority for health Canada? So we’ve been monitoring baby
foods and cereals for arsenic for over ten years. In terms of the maximum
levels for arsenic, that’s also work that’s been
going on for a number of years. It’s actually very good that
you’re bringing attention to these products, because
people may not be aware of that. But certainly our look at
arsenic has been going on for a long time. What’s taking so long
to set these limits? We’ve done a lot of work
with respect to arsenic in other products. So there’s already limits of
arsenic in drinking water. We were looking at fruit juices,
and then we are moving to the rice products. I have to tell you the parents
we talked to were really shocked and surprised that Canada
doesn’t have any limits. So what I would say to parents,
in order not to alarm them which they should not be, is that
again the product that they are providing for their
kids, internationally, are very, very similar. Regardless of what limits
are, or what regulations are. [Makda] Finally, after months
of asking about arsenic in baby food, Health Canada has
news to share with us. So in terms of having
maximum limits, we are looking at rice that
would be destined for all products and that would include
for babies and for cereals and for snacks. [Makda] So we will keep
watching, but for now no legal limits. Public Health professor Marion
Nestle offers a second opinion. Without a public uproar I
don’t see governments acting. While health officials
are debating this, what should parents do? I do not think parents
should be buying rice cereal. Why would you want to feed
arsenic to your baby if you could feed them another food
that doesn’t have arsenic in it? [Makda] This is
your Marketplace. Rice is one of the world’s
most popular grains. But it has arsenic in it. So here’s some food for thought. A couple of bowls
a week are okay. But what kind of rice you
choose and how you cook it really matters. Nice pour. [Makda] The Tahari
family loves rice. Look at the colour
of the water now! [Makda] And if yours
does too here’s how to reduce the arsenic. Take that rice and
soak it overnight. Similar to pasta, cook your
rice in six times more water. Toss that water and with that
goes half the arsenic, too. [woman] Okay, now
you can put it in. [Makda] Unfortunately
brown rice just has more arsenic than white. And some varieties
have less arsenic, like basmati from India,
jasmine from Thailand, and instant or white
short-grain rice from the US. Can you put the spoon in there? [Makda] Something for you and
your family to chew on. What do you say? Thank you. Thank you for lunch. Hey, Marketplace. We’re talking about packaging. It’s ridiculous. The potatoes, ridiculous. The grapes, ridiculous. [Makda] After our investigation
on plastic waste in supermarkets we asked for your worst
examples and you delivered. I’m frustrated because I
don’t think this type of plastic packaging comes
from consumer demand. [Makda] But we need more. What are the most outrageously
over packaged items you’ve seen? Send us your pics and videos. E-mail [email protected] [♪♪♪]

100 thoughts on “Food safety: What’s lurking in rice? (Marketplace)

  1. What ever happened Mashed Vegetables as babies first solids? Why all the rice products, is it because it is cheap but can be sold at a massive profit???

  2. we asian have been eating rice for generations and most of the time 60-70% of the whole plate everyday. 10KG of rice can last about less than a weak! . but my family never have any cancer or heart disease problem

  3. bacteria on raw rice its called lactobacili ,very pro biotic. but those colorfully packaged baby food cereals has more chemicals in them than natural organic rice

  4. These findings makes me feel sad. However, why Japanese (who eat lots of rice) always have the longest life in the world? Maybe they have good rice? A bit confusing…. Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy

  5. There's zero evidence that even high levels of arsenic can cause any damage to a child. this is very fear mongering over nothing

  6. The government is corrupted. They want to feed poison to babies so they can get sick as they get older to get medicated. The pharma illuminati scam

  7. Just buy rice and cook porridge adding in fish it meat or what ever as long as you cook it real soft don't buy fancy rubbish
    I am in my 70 all my children's and grand children growing up first eating rice porridge later on to rice since I have my last child I see a doc less then 10x. Fast food is the one killing people's gmo kill more ppls rubbish video

  8. Notice how there is a single male parent there. And they sat him at the edge where camera can't even see it. So sexist!

  9. I get tired of people think organic is safe, natural is safe and that "chemicals" are bad. You've been happily misled and anyone who tries to inform you is the "enemy" instead of you taking the opportunity to learn. If you cannot admit to being wrong then you cannot learn.

  10. we eat rice basically three meals every day in China, a lot of our snacks are made of rice as well. But we barely have people who have heart disease…..this is lack of evidence

  11. This is Billy.Problem is this is growing worldwide.Rice is bleached.Seniors also at risk so important read labels.

  12. To just say rice. I feel it's unjustified. For counties like japan, rice is largely consumed at all ages. But their rice is of much higher quality. Plus stores like Costco should also be included in the tested, where often Costco only brands are sold.

  13. babies should not be fed with special food as this can be easily poisoned by whatever, babies should have organic food that is grown by their parents.

  14. the reporter is so dumb lmao. 'wOulD tHis bE SolD iN EurOpe' THERES. A. DIFFERENCE. BETWEEN. EUROPE. AND. THE. EU.

    GET IT RIGHT lol

  15. Tell this to the Japanese people who eat rice three meals a day and live a long long life. What about the Thais? Chinese? Koreans? Malays? Other nations and race of people who also eat rice as a staple food? And why are babies in Canada eating these unnecessary manufactured rice cereal products?

  16. Lawsuit & recall coming. This is the way we treat children? 🤤 Why are the moms laughing? This is criminal.

  17. Well I hues nearly all asains and people who love rice in general is doomed *(I'm still going to eat rice though)

  18. How do you cook the rice in 6 times more water, then pour away the water? Cook them like a porridge, then pour away water, then recooked to get rice????

  19. NO ARSENIC IS ACCEPTABLE FOR OUR BABIES !!!!!!!!! THIS IS VERY ALARMING!!!!! I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED RICE!!!!!!!!!!! NO POISON FOR BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. I have to isolate myself and hide from this sick world. They are poisoning us by food, water and air

  21. You guys really need to cover computer vision syndrom. Or digital vision syndrom. It will be the next epidemic

  22. Rice is usually recommended because it's generally not going to cause too much stomach distress (after all, it's also recommended for people who are sick with a stomach bug) and because rice allergies are fairly uncommon.

    Of course, I've also known people to start off with fruit and veggies instead of grains. My friend's kids all had avocado as their first food.

  23. Rice is a staple food in South East Asia. I’ve never heard any kind of arsenic problem particularly in our country. Marketplace should have specified where the rice came from. Most SE Asians grew up eating rice like me and I never had any health issues growing up. I think it’s just how the farmers grew them and how it was processed at the factory to sell it as baby food. What I also notice is that local farmers here in our country still grew rice in traditional ways. Maybe that’s the difference. And maybe because we have the Rice Research Institute which works with WHO. So far, this Marketplace Documentary related to rice is a bit off for me.

  24. You do realize that India, China, Japan and the rest of the Asian countries where people live long and healthy lives all eat rice almost 2-3 times a day, right?

  25. you seriously give those processed foods to your babies?

    plus, rice is the 1st food for MILLIONS of people in Asia, and ….are Thai, Chinese, etc sick?

  26. Ms. Don't-Worry-Parents shows when she's lying or evading by lifting her voice at the end of the lying sentence. People seldom have such obvious "tells."

  27. Does the Canadian Government's, Health, Agriculture, EPA, or any other official Department ever do anything except pick up their inflated paychecks? They are always "working on a solution" appointing a committee "investigating " looking closely at, Blah,Blah,Blah,Blah…. in short they are doing diddley squat! They are past masters at not answering a direct question with a direct answer.

  28. wow. how will that company react? And why are the majority of mothers Asian ( some are so darn pretty! )

  29. So, (17:28) since we "don't have" as much variety of baby products you would have in Europe, "it's okay" to keep on the shelves and sell those arsenic-rice baby products in Canada. A "less availability for variety" justifies it!

    Let me guess, that woman in the red jacket thinks "Sorry, it's noting personal, just pure business!"

  30. I never fed my babies with comertial food, when they started to eat "solid food", I cooked them from raw and from scratch! Why can't Canadian mothers do the same??? is convenience really that important and preferable above your own child's health, risking permanent brain damage?!

  31. This is another reason why you can’t bring rice across the Canada-US Border. Arsenic kills flora and fauna if ingested.

  32. hmm how did humans ever survive as a species, before processed convenience food? My son's first ever solid food was a bowl of 'champ'. An Irish dish of mashed potatoes, and scallions boiled in milk then mixed with the potatoes. As we progressed, he ate what we, his parents ate. Healthy home made food, liquidised.
    Thank goodness there were no processed packets back then.

  33. Canada reportedly appears to be 1 nation amongst 64 nations that does not have GMO free regulations . Sure hope not.

  34. On a total different issue that I observed in this video as well as all over. 

    WHAT HAPPENED TO MANNERS AND NEVER WEARING A HAT AT THE TABLE ????????

  35. You said it can affect brain development,how? And what else can it affect? Can it affect overall development?

  36. What actual good is this program going to do, other than scaring the hell out of the parents. Are any changes going to come out of this? I think not!

  37. I hope the farmer, the industry/company, the people are this aware of food contamination in my country :<
    They all seem don't care..or even don't know at all. They buy products just because: appealing commercial, because a friend Recommended it, because their parents/grandma suggested it with no scientific reason, because packaging design is very nice..

    They don't even try to read the ingredients-_- & nutrition value listed on the package

  38. I grew up in Asia where we eat rice 3 times a day, everything is organic coz we live in the high mountains, no machinery and chemicals. But i never fed my daughter rice cereal mostly fruits, vegetables and fish i even gave her peanuts against what other people say when she was young.thats probably why she doesnt care much for rice and now i dont mind not eating either, sometimes weeks.

  39. Meanwhile the levels of aluminum and formaldehyde in vaccines are at dangerous levels and nobody bats an eye.

  40. Rice is a staple food because it's easy to prepare and cook and goes well with various side dishes.

    I think bread is considered as an alternative staple food but it's kinda a hassle to bake/buy bread everyday. And it's kinda weird to eat bread with stir fried vegetables or fried fish. The point is that I don't think there's any other basic food that can beat rice. Especially for those who grew up with eating rice everyday.

    Personally, foods without rice doesn't look like it'll be a filling meal for me. Unless they're noodles or pasta.

  41. So, real world, who is it that gives the shithead politicians suitcases full of money for their campaigns? Huge corporations. Like the ones that make baby food. Huge piles of money come with strings attached. Politicians and bureaucrats are intentionally slow to act because any rule that reduces corporate profit is going to make those corporations tell them to back off, or the suitcases full of money will go to other politicians next election. That "chief medical advisor" didn't get to that position because she is oblivious to the way politics works. If policies she recommends will start effecting corporation profit margins, they make a call to the politician that appointed her, she's out of a job and the politicians re-election is in jeopardy. Just like the US, politicians work for corporations, not the deluded, naive public.

  42. 4:50 "How are doctors supposed to know?"?! Shouldn't doctors be "curious" and constantly reevaluating new scientific research? For me, after being burnt and damaged so many times by "Doctor's Advice", I don't believe a word they say anymore. In fact, you'd be better off listening to what they advise and then doing the exact opposite!

  43. I thing the more they must give for their baby the most important is ASI(mother milk). that's a most important first food for baby

  44. These days you cant eat anything anymore without being poisend. Go outside, oh to bad air poisen. Drink watter oh my bacteria and lead poisone. Whats next sleep/dream poison

  45. why we buy the product. its simple maths don't expect the companies to change just stop buying and eventually they will run out business

  46. Any amount of arsenic in any food IS NOT OK by any excuses the company’s or “BOUGHT AND PAID FOR” come up with..

  47. There are several prisons in California with huge signs above inmate drinking water saying it has high levels of arsenic that may be fatal BUT it's the only water inmates have to drink! DVI in Tracy and Kern State prison in Delano. They even shower in that brown water. Please investigate!!!!

  48. People knowingly poisoning babies like this through formula need to be flayed alive . CNN reported 95 percent have heavy metals.

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