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Food Safety Focus (56th Issue, March 2011) – Food Incident Highlight

Cadmium in Rice

Last month, media reported that studies found excessive cadmium in some rice samples in Mainland China which raised public concerns as rice is the main staple.

Cadmium is found naturally in soil and is present in rice by absorption from soil. However, cadmium may be present at higher levels if the soil or the irrigation water is contaminated e.g. by the use of cadmium-containing fertilisers or waste discharges. Cadmium is a human carcinogen and may have adverse effects on kidney over prolonged intake. Clean water should be used for irrigation to minimise cadmium contamination. Consumers are advised to purchase rice from reliable source.

The Centre for Food Safety conducts regular surveillance on rice to test for metallic contaminants including cadmium. In the 80 rice samples tested for cadmium in the past three years, all results were satisfactory. Traders should ensure all foods they sell or import comply with legal standards.