Despite being the number-one producer and consumer of rice in the world, more Chinese citizens are buying rice imported from Japan and elsewhere due to fears about heavy metals and other toxins, according to Reuters. While the amount of rice imported to China from Japan in 2014 is still extremely small, it was triple the amount imported in 2013. This news comes on the heels of revelations in 2013 that rice imported to the U.S. from China and Taiwan was contaminated with dangerously high levels of lead. Other studies out of China in 2013 and 2014 found that 44 percent of rice samples contained excessive levels of cadmium, while 16 percent of Chinese soil was contaminated. Imported Japanese rice can cost up to 10 times the price of domestic Chinese rice. Some Chinese are buying rice from Thailand as another alternative, though studies have shown significant levels of lead in Thai rice. According to the Wall Street Journal, China is also importing enormous supplies of rice to meet demand. The country was projected to import 2.2 million tons of rice in 2014, while it produced 143 million tons itself. The U.S. imports about 7 percent of its rice supply, according to CBS News, though imports of rice and rice flour have doubled since 1999. In 2011, a study linked rice sold in the U.S. to high levels of arsenic. China has suffered a series of food safety scares in recent years, some of which have caused consumers in the country to turn to certain imported products over their domestic counterparts, including imported infant formula and milk.

  • JoeyD

    Geez c’mon China get your act together!

  • Barbara Leinweber

    Does China export rice? If so, are these exports tested? What toxins on rice are the Chinese concerned?

  • PJG

    The lead levels in rice from the Monmouth University studies were retracted because the professor didn’t know what he was doing. See for example: http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2013/06/24/rice-lead-and-the-problem-of-untracked-science-reporting/ with a host of links. This link or just google “lead in rice retraction”

  • DiscusBS

    What was the range of values reported for cadmium? Were they compared to the maximum contaminant levels found in Codex, Hong Kong, Australia? Article is missing a lot of data and seems to assume that the FDA has actual regulations protecting American consumers which it does not. The FDA has resisted development of regulation that might put limits on foodstuffs contaminated with the various heavy metals.