Cadmium testing in rice determines no health risk

May 23, 2013, Ottawa: As part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) routine testing of various food products, a study released today found that all samples of rice and rice-based products analyzed for the metal cadmium were safe for consumption.

The CFIA tested a total of 280 food samples of domestic and imported origins. These included 56 rice grain samples and 224 rice-based products. The 280 samples included 27 domestic products, 251 imported products and 2 products of unverifiable origin. Rice is not grown in Canada, so rice products listed as domestic were manufactured or processed in Canada using imported ingredients.

The 2010-2011 study found that 154 (55%) did not contain a detectable level of cadmium. The remaining 126 samples contained detectable cadmium levels ranging from 0.0054 to 0.0505 parts per million (ppm) in rice grains and 0.0026 to 0.2646 ppm in rice-based products. This result was not unexpected because cadmium occurs naturally in the environment, and as a by-product from industrial and agricultural sources. Rice is particularly susceptible to cadmium absorption due to its distinctive cultivation in flooded fields.

While Health Canada has not set standards for cadmium levels in Canada, the cadmium levels observed in this survey were well below the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s established maximum level of 0.4 ppm of cadmium in rice. Survey results were shared with Health Canada, which determined there was no health risk to consumers. No recalls were required.

When elevated levels of cadmium are detected, Health Canada may conduct an assessment to determine if the specific level poses a health risk based on the level, the expected frequency of exposure and the contribution to overall diet. The CFIA then determines whether further action is needed up to and including product seizure and/or recall. If a human health risk is found, a public recall notice is issued.

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