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This common method of cooking rice might leave arsenic traces in food

Scientists have warned that millions of people might be putting themselves at risk by cooking their rice the wrong way, according to the Independent.

The common method of cooking rice by boiling it in a pan until the water has steamed out might be ineffiecient in preventing exposure to arsenic, which contaminates rice as it is growing as a result of pesticides. The chemical has been linked to a series of problems including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and development problems.

It is generally believed that any trace of arsenic disappears when the rice is cooked. However, it has now been proved that this happens only when the rice is soaked overnight. Andy Meharg, professor of biological sciences at Queens University Belfast, tested three ways of cooking rice for the BBC programme ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’, in order to see how the levels of arsenic changed.


For the first method, Meharg used two parts water to one part rice and let the water steam out during cooking – a commonly used method. He found that this left most of the arsenic present. The second method involved using five parts water to one part rice and washed the excess water off and halved arsenic levels. In the third method, the rice was soaked overnight and reduced the toxins by 80%.

The safest way to cook rice is to soak it overnight, wash and rinse it until the water is clear, before draining it and boiling it in a saucepan – five parts water to one part rice.

Daisy Wilder