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British university offers lecture for World Food Safety Day: Can quinoa be a healthier and safer alternative to rice?


Professor Parvez Haris of De Montfort University in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will give a World Food Safety Day lecture on arsenic in rice and whether quinoa can be a healthier and safer alternative.

For many years Professor Haris has been carrying out research on rice, especially focusing on its essential and toxic element composition [1-3].  According to Haris, the research with populations in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Bangladesh revealed that those with a higher intake of rice have greater exposure to arsenic [1-2].

Reducing human exposure to high levels of toxic forms of arsenic has been an important area of Haris’ research. Studies by him and colleagues, as well as others, have revealed that arsenic content of rice "can be high and it can be a cause for concern, especially for babies whose weaning food often tends to be rice; those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance who often consume rice as it is gluten free; and population groups who consume large quantities of rice on a daily basis".

In order to identify low arsenic grains, the researchers have analysed several other grains including quinoa.  They say that research revealed  that, in general, "quinoa has lower arsenic content than rice.  It also has higher content of essential elements such as zinc, calcium and potassium".

Find out more by attending the lecture. Please register directly with Professor Haris by email


[1] Cascio, C., Raab, A., Jenkins, R.O., Feldmann, J., Meharg, A.A. and Haris, P.I., 2011. The impact of a rice based diet on urinary arsenic. Journal of Environmental Monitoring13(2), pp.257-265.
[2] Melkonian, S., Argos, M., Hall, M.N., Chen, Y., Parvez, F., Pierce, B., Cao, H., Aschebrook-Kilfoy, B., Ahmed, A., Islam, T. and Slavcovich, V., 2013. Urinary and dietary analysis of 18,470 Bangladeshis reveal a correlation of rice consumption with arsenic exposure and toxicity. PloS one8(11), p.e80691.
[3] Al-Rmalli, S.W., Jenkins, R.O., Watts, M.J. and Haris, P.I., 2012. Reducing human exposure to arsenic, and simultaneously increasing selenium and zinc intake, by substituting non-aromatic rice with aromatic rice in the diet. Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging1(4), pp.365-381.

Photo © FAO/Vyacheslav Oseledko