Common Way of Cooking Rice Can be Dangerous

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. caution / ˈkɔ ʃən / (v) – to give a warning about an important matter

    Health experts cautioned the public about the risks of eating too much salty food.

  2. alarming / əˈlɑr mɪŋ / (adj) – causing possible danger

    The high levels of chemicals in cosmetics are very alarming.

  3. modify / ˈmɒd əˌfaɪ / (v) – to adjust

    We need to modify the amount of ingredients in this recipe.

  4. excess / ˈɛk sɛs / (adj) – having more than what is needed

    The company decided to save its excess profit.

  5. soak / soʊk / (v) – to wet completely

    The noodles were soaked in water.


Read the text below.

Scientists caution people that the common way of cooking rice can lead to serious health risks.

Research revealed that cooking rice by boiling it leaves high levels of the toxic substance arsenic. Although it exists naturally in various types of food, arsenic is most common in rice than in any other food. Since rice plants grow under flooded surfaces, they easily absorb arsenic sealed in the soil.

A Consumer Reports study published in 2014 revealed that arsenic was present in every one of the 233 samples of rice products examined. The study also found that arsenic levels in the urine of those who consumed one serving of rice were higher by 44% than those who did not.

Exposure to arsenic can result in illnesses such as bladder cancer, lung cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Problems in one’s growth and mental development are also an alarming effect of absorbing the chemical.

Queens University Belfast professor Andy Meharg tested three new methods of cooking rice to see if they could modify arsenic levels.  The first method, which cooked one part rice in two parts water, left the highest arsenic levels. The second method, which cooked one part rice in five parts water, cut the level of arsenic in half as the excess water was drained and the rice was rinsed. The third method, in which the rice was soaked overnight, was found to display the highest reduction rate at 82%.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What are possible effects of doing the third method of cooking rice (e.g. preparation time)?
• Would you adopt the third method of cooking rice? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What kinds of food are risky to one’s health?
• Would you still eat these kinds of food despite the health risk?