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From 2016, inorganic arsenic will for the first time be subject to maximum level restrictions in rice-based products in the European Union. The new mandatory limits were introduced with the publication of Regulation (EU) No. 2015/1006. SGS provides laboratory analyses for companies that sell rice or manufacture rice-based products. The testing institute uses officially recognized analytical procedures to identify toxic arsenic compounds in foodstuffs.

Milled rice (polished or white rice), parboiled rice and husked rice as well as rice waffles, rice wafers, rice crackers and rice cakes can be tested in SGS laboratories for inorganic arsenic. The background: defined maximum concentrations of this substance of 0.2 to 0.3 milligrams per kilogram will apply for the first time to foodstuffs in the EU from 2016. SGS can also test rice products primarily consumed by infants and young children or used as baby food, to which even lower maximum levels to apply. In future, according to the limits set by the EU, rice flakes or rice pudding may only contain a maximum of 0.1 milligrams inorganic arsenic per kilogram.

Regulation (EU) No. 2015/1006 sets new maximum levels for contaminants

The background to this new regulation for arsenic compounds in rice is an assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), according to which the European population – in particular children under three years of age – consume considerably more rice products than previously assumed.

Rice contains inorganic arsenic compounds from natural or anthropogenic sources, which can cause cancer in humans. The European Commission therefore considered it necessary to legislate and set maximum limits. The new maximum levels for inorganic arsenic will come into force from 1 January 2016. Foodstuffs lawfully placed on the market prior to this date may continue to be marketed until their best-before date or use-by date.

Maximum concentrations of inorganic arsenic in rice at a glance

  • Milled rice (polished or white rice): 0.20 mg/kg
  • Parboiled rice and husked rice: 0.25 mg/kg
  • Rice waffles, rice wafers, rice crackers and rice cakes: 0.30 mg/kg
  • Rice in foodstuffs for infants and young children: 0.10 mg/kg

Detecting arsenite and arsenate in rice and other food products

To rule out prohibited contamination with inorganic arsenic, SGS examines foodstuffs using the atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) hybrid technique. This analytical technique is a recognized procedure under § 64 of the German Food and Feed Code (Lebensmittel- und Futtermittelgesetzbuch, LFGB) and can detect concentrations of toxic arsenic compounds, such as arsenite (As3+) and arsenate (As5+), in cereals and cereal-based products. It can also be used to analyse fish, vegetables, coffee, beer and foodstuffs for special dietary purposes, including algae.

If you have any queries regarding analyses of inorganic contaminants such as arsenic in rice or other food products, please use our contact form or call our experts in our Consumer Testing Services Food department.

Contact

SGS Germany GmbH
Consumer Testing Services Food / Agricultural Services
Rödingsmarkt 16
D- 20459 Hamburg
phone: +49 (0)40 30101-686