Professor of biological sciences at Queens University Belfast, Andy Meharg, tested three ways of cooking rice to see how the levels of arsenic changed. Meharg, who has worked in the field for decades regularly tests rice and rice products and shared his findings with the BBC programme Trust Me, I’m a Doctor. In his first test, Meharg found used a ratio of two parts water to one part rice to cook the rice. Most of the arsenic was still present after the water was steamed out.
When the professor used five parts water to one part rice and washed the excess water off, levels of arsenic were almost halved. Meharg’s third method of soaking rice overnight, arsenic levels were reduced by 80%.
Meharg’s conclusion was therefore that the safest method of cooking rice is to soak it overnight first. The rice must then be washed and rinsed until the water is clear and then draining it well before being boiled in a saucepan. The ratio should be five parts water to one part rice.
The professor also found the following:
- Basmati rice contains lower levels than other rice
- Brown rice usually contains more arsenic than white rice (because of the husk)
- Growing rice organically doesn’t make a difference to levels
- Rice cakes and crackers can contain levels higher than in cooked rice.
- The levels of arsenic found in rice milk far exceed the amounts that would be allowed in drinking water