(Wolf Blitzer)So, Dr. Coughlin what kinds of health concerns are we faced with, in the wake of high levels of arsenic contamination in food products, especially rice products and other products with rice as the core base?
(Dr. Coughlin)There are two types of arsenic elements found naturally in our food items, organic and inorganic. While the organic arsenic does not harm us fatally, inorganic arsenic is a carcinogen. However, one should know that exposure to arsenic is unavoidable because traces of both types of arsenic are found in air, soil and water and there is no defined limit for exposure to organic arsenic as we have not witnessed any health hazards arising out of organic arsenic exposure(Consumer Reports Magazine).
(Wolf Blitzer) Mr. Cook I wish to enquire about your reaction to the reports of arsenic contamination in food especially in infant formula and more. What would you say about the safety and quality assurance measures being taken up by the FDA? Do you really think that we need to change our food habits or should we demand stricter surveillance by the FDA or the US Rice Federation?
(Mr. Cook) Honestly, I was not shocked to see reports about the contamination because similar researches have been carried outin the past and I mean the 1990s, that had specifically focused on arsenic concentration in rice but the media and consumers seem enraged over the arsenic being found in infant food where rice forms the core base product. However claims by the US rice federation and FDA that the surveillance on rice producers has toughened (US Rice Federation) may not put the consumers’ apprehensions to rest. Moreover, how would the common man know whether the arsenic content has actually been checked because the FDA regulations would take some time to be implemented and the knowledge of such contamination is not a newfound fact. It would be rather absurd to force people to change their food habits.