Monday, 12 May 2008

Public advised 'old rice not good for health'

Public health information given out in India following a detailed scientific study contains the following worrying phrase: "Old rice cooks well but it may cause severe health problems including poisoning if it is not washed properly."

The suggestion is that there is a practice of storing rice for long periods of time to improve its cooking properties. It follows that this practice is carried out by people who are going to be difficult to reach with the health advice contained in this article. Practices that have been carried out for years tend to be handed down from parent to offspring and in this case they could be playing a mouldy form of 'russian roulette' with their health.
If a batch of stored rice becomes damp it will grow Aspergillus and runs a high risk of becoming contaminated with high levels of mycotoxins - many of which are extremely bad for health.

Unfortunately the article seems to say that washing the rice before use will counteract toxicity, but I think it is far from accepted that a simple rinse in water will remove the mycotoxins - far better to clearly state that damp & mouldy rice should be disposed of.

What if you have no alternative to eating mouldy rice? In this old story from China in 2004 there was a strong suggestion that mouldy rice finds its way back into food for some people - particularly poorly fed migrant workers.

The fact that people are not being reported as dying in large numbers from these contaminated foods may either say that people are dying but mycotoxins are not being identified as the cause - amongst poorly fed workers for example there could be many other health problems causing death - or perhaps ingestion of low to medium amounts of mycotoxins isn't lethal.

What the cumulative effects are of eating mycotoxins regularly are not know (as far as I know). Perhaps a study looking at the frequency of illnesses related to mycotoxins in poorly fed areas is indicated?


Abigail said...

thanks for the information.

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