Risk perception of arsenic exposure from rice intake in a UK population

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Debapriya Mondal
  • Tasila Mwale
  • Lingqian Xu
  • Helen Matthews
  • Anuli Oyeka
  • Gemma Lace-Costigan


In the UK, consumption of rice and rice-based products is on the rise but, notwithstanding public expressed concerns about such products as an exposure route for arsenic (e.g., BBC News report, 2017 ‘Should I worry about arsenic in my rice?') there are few, if any published data on public perceptions of risks associated with exposure to arsenic in rice. We therefore aimed to determine the risk perception of arsenic exposure from rice intake and factors that are associated with arsenic knowledge and whether or not this knowledge had an influence on rice consumption and cooking practices. A questionnaire, targeting participation of rice-eating ethnic minorities in Greater Manchester, UK, was administered to 184 participants. A multivariate generalised linear model was used to determine the factors associated with rice consumption behaviour, cooking practices, and risk perception. We show for the first time that the general population did not associate arsenic, which they perceive as toxic to health, with rice consumption. More than half of the participants knew about arsenic as a hazardous substance but less than ten percent knew that rice consumption could be an important route of arsenic exposure. Knowledge of arsenic was significantly lower in Asian/Asian British:Pakistanis (Pakistani) (OR: 0.006; 95% CI:0.00–0.03) and Asian/Asian British:Bangladeshis (Bangladeshi) (OR: 0.064; 95% CI:0.01–0.25) compared to White:English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British (White British). Moreover, Bangladeshis consumed three times more rice (OR: 2.92; 95% CI:1.73–4.93) compared to White British. Overall higher rice consumption was not associated with higher knowledge of the nutritional value of rice. Rinsing rice before cooking, an effective arsenic removal technique, was practised by 93% of the participants; however, the most popular cooking method was the use of adequate water (rice to water ratio of 1:2) but not excess water (rice to water ratio of >1:4), the latter being more effective in removing arsenic. Better education, higher weekly expenditure on food and prior knowledge of arsenic hazard were all significant factors positively influencing a change in behaviour to reduce arsenic exposure from rice intake.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number89
JournalPalgrave Communications
Issue number1
Early online date6 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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