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Code of Practice for the prevention and reduction of arsenic contamination in rice

AGREED – 17 July 2017


The Codex Alimentarius Commission has adopted a code of practice for the prevention and reduction of arsenic contamination in rice.

Arsenic is among a wide range of substances, whether occurring naturally in the environment or produced by human activity, that can accumulate in plants as they grow and, eventually, end up in our food. Such contaminants may be harmful to human health.

Arsenic can become concentrated in rice, the major staple food for a large portion of the world’s population. Health risks associated with high arsenic exposure, such as cancer and certain skin diseases are significant on a global scale. Arsenic  exposure has also been associated with developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes. Contamination can also impact the availability of rice and, thereby, food security

Serving as a guide for managing the risks of arsenic contamination in rice, the code of practice lays out agricultural and source-directed measures that have proved effective and implementable worldwide to help rice producers avoid and reduce introduction or build-up of arsenic in their crops.

Developed through a broad participatory process, involving countries from all income groupings, the code of practice is now available to rice farmers and other stakeholders to help produce and trade safe rice. It shows how to take appropriate measures regarding water, soil, agricultural and industrial contamination, thus protecting the health of consumers everywhere. Further development of the code is envisaged as more practices become available further down the food chain (e.g. processing and cooking measures).

Related links:

Code of Practice – see appendix I (download)

WHO fact sheet on arsenic (download)

Maximum limits for pesticide residues in food

AGREED – 17 July 2017

The Codex Alimentarius Commission has adopted maximum residue limits for more than 25 different pesticides in various foods, including vegetables (avocados, cucumbers), fruits (grapes, pears), and animal products (milk, eggs, poultry).

Pesticides are chemicals used to kill insects, weeds and other pests to prevent them from damaging crops. Even when used in accordance with best practices, low levels of residues of pesticides can end up in food.  The maximum limits aim to ensure pesticide residues do not harm people’s health, and are based on risk assessments from the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR),

Existing Codex standards for diazinon, glyphosate and malathion remain unchanged, taking into account the JMPR’s recent re-evaluation of these pesticides.


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