Scientists have revealed that millions of people could be putting their health at risk by cooking rice incorrectly.
Traces of the poison arsenic may be found in rice, resulting from the toxins and pesticides found in soil. Apparently, soaking rice overnight before cooking it with lots of water (one part rice to five parts water) is the most effective way to properly remove these traces.
Health issues including cancer, heart disease and diabetes have been linked to chronic exposure to arsenic, so there is a lot at stake in the simple matter of cooking rice.
The poisonous chemical arsenic is naturally occurring yet toxic and the level at which it is safe to consume has long been subject to debate. New limits were set in place by the EU in 2016 but now experiments have suggested that soaking and cooking rice properly is the key to removing traces of the toxin.
The best method is thought to be soaking the rice overnight before rinsing it very well, then cooking it with five parts water to one part rice.
This should then be brought to the boil and simmered on the lowest possible heat for 10-15 minutes, covered tightly by a lid.
The issue was tested for the BBC programme Trust Me, I’m a Doctor. In the experiment, Professor Andy Meharg of Queens University Belfast cooked rice with five parts water to one part rice and found that the levels of arsenic were almost halved, compared to cooking it with less water.
He also trialled the method of soaking rice overnight, which was found to reduce levels of the chemical by 80 per cent.