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Arsenic species in rice: A new Australian reference material

(17.09.2015)


Background:
Inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen, and long-term oral exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic is associated with developmental defects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity, and diabetes, according to the World Health Organization. Worldwide, drinking water and foodstuffs are the two main sources of inorganic As. While today there is very limited legislation limiting the acceptable arsenic content in food, it is very likely that specific legislation will be introduced for inorganic arsenic concentrations in rice in Europe, USA, Australia and elsewhere. Food safety organizations in Europe (EFSA), USA (FDA) and Australia (FSANZ) are in the process of discussing the acceptable levels for inorganic arsenic that is expected to be set at 0.2–0.3 µg/g. This will require producers of rice to certify that their rice has acceptable inorganic As concentrations.


Photo:  A range of rices ready for analysis. Brown rice
normally contains more arsenic than white rice. Polished rice has
less
arsenic than rice with husks. 
Measurement of inorganic As in food is demanding both with respect to methodology and required instrumentation. First, inorganic Arsenic  must be quantitatively extracted from rice and separated from other arsenic species such as monomethylarsenic (MMA) and dimethylarsenic (DMA), to avoid overestimation of inorganic As. Commonly, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled to inductively coupled mass spectrometry (ICPMS) is used for this purpose, but care must be taken that co-elution of arsenic species and/or losses from adsorption to column packing material doesn't occur. Also, arsenic determination by ICPMS can suffer from matrix interference such as carbon enhancement in the ICP torch and isobaric interferences in the mass spectrometer, leading to an overestimation in arsenic concentration. Precautions must be taken to ensure the quality of results.

New reference material:
In order to support the quality assurance of such speciation analysis, people at the Ecochemistry Laboratory at the University of Canberra, have produced a rice reference material. For that purpose, rice flour was sterilised by gamma irradiation and homogeneity tests were conducted using a suite of other elements present in the rice flour.

For the speciation analysis, aliquots of the rice flour were extracted with 2% nitric acid; total arsenic was measured by ICPMS and inorganic As and DMA by HPLC-ICPMS by a method verified by analysis of eight international rice flour reference materials and XANES. The rice flour contains 0.192 ± 0.006 µg/g dry mass total As, 0.040 ± 0.004 µg/g dry mass AsIII, 0.068 ± 0.003 µg/g dry mass AsV and 0.085 ± 0.004 µg/g dry mass DMA.  The analysis of reference material and obtaining satisfactory results gives confidence in arsenic concentrations being reported by the Ecochemistry Laboratory.

The reference material is available, free of charge, by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Ecochemistry Laboratory, University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT 2601. For more information, contact Bill Maher at the University of Canberra.

Source: adapted from Chemistry in Australia


Related study:

W. Maher, S. Foster, F. Krikova, E. Lombi, Measurement of Inorganic Arsenic Species in Rice after Nitric Acid Extraction by HPLC-ICPMS: Verification Using XANES, Environ. Sci. Technol., 47 (2013) 5821-5827. doi: 10.1021/es304299v



Related information:

Consumer Reports: How much arsenic is in your rice ?
US FDA: Arsenic in rice and rice products
UK Food Standards Agency: Arsenic in Rice
WHO: Arsenic fact sheet
BfR: Supplement EU maximum levels for inorganic arsenic in rice and rice products
through consumption recommendations for the protection of infants, toddlers and
children : Updated BfR Opinion No. 017/2015 of 06 February 2014
FSANZ: Arsenic in Food
Food Safety News, May 2, 2015: New Bill Would Limit Permissible Level of Inorganic Arsenic in Rice

Related EVISA Resources

Brief summary: Standard methods for arsenic speciation analysis
Brief summary: ICP-MS: A versatile detection system for speciation analysis
Brief summary: LC-ICP-MS - The most often used hyphenated system for speciation analysis
Brief summary: Chemical speciation analysis for nutrition and food science
Brief summary: Speciation analysis - Striving for quality
Brief summary: Certified Reference Materials for Speciation Analysis
Brief summary: Certified reference materials for arsenic in marine animal tissues
Brief summary: Certified Reference Materials for Arsenic in Biological Materials
Company Database: IRMM and its products
Material Database: CRMs for the analysis of rice
Material Database: Rice reference materials
Material Database: CRMs certifying the content of total arsenic
Material Database: CRMs certifying the content of arsenobetaine
Material Database: CRMs certifying the content of DMAA
Link database: Arsenic species and human health/nutrition/metabolism
Link database: Toxicity of arsenic species

Link page: All about Arsenic
Link page: All about food science
Link page: All about quality of measurements


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