Providing an evidence base for a maximum permissible level of inorganic arsenic in rice

  • Feldmann, Jörg (Participant)
  • Andrew Alexander Meharg (Participant)
  • Andrea Raab (Participant)
  • Eva Maria Krupp (Participant)


Description of impact

The Trace Element Speciation Laboratory (TESLA), led by Professor Feldmann at the University of Aberdeen, have developed pioneering analytical chemistry techniques to quantify inorganic arsenic in rice and rice-based food. Feldmann’s research has been key to raising awareness of the high levels of inorganic arsenic (iA) contained in rice, with his research forming the basis of a recommendation by the European Commission (EC) to formally establish a maximum permissible level of the class I carcinogen inorganic arsenic (in rice). Based on this recommendation, a maximum legal limit of 0.2 mg/kg (for adults) has since been identified by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation (WHO). This was implemented into EU law in 2016.

Feldmann’s research and technical expertise has also been key to facilitating low-cost methods for iA testing in the United States (U.S.) food industry and supporting reference material for baby food products in Canada. In order to help potential rice producers meet the 2016 EU standards, Feldmann developed two new affordable methods to low/medium income countries to detect levels of iA in their rice products. As a way to open up market opportunities he has worked closely with partners in Malawi to build capacity for iA testing while raising awareness of best practice amongst rice farmers in the country.

Outcomes to Date / Future Developments

The impact resulting from the research on arsenic in rice involves:
- Providing an evidence base to inform maximum limits on iA around the world;
- Reducing the cost of iA testing in the U.S. food industry;
- Development of a certified reference material (CRM) for infant food matrices in Canada;
- Building capacity for iA monitoring in Malawi;
- Engaging with local rice farmers in Malawi – creating the infrastructure for field-testing.
Impact statusImpact Completed (Open)
Impact date20082020


  • Agriculture