Rice Grain Cadmium Concentrations in the Global Supply-Chain

Zhengyu Shi, Manus Carey, Caroline Meharg, Paul N. Williams, Antonio J. Signes-Pastor, Eridha Ayu Triwardhani, Febbyandi Isnanda Pandiangan, Katrina Campbell, Christopher Elliott, Ernest M. Marwa, Xiao Jiujin, Júlia Gomes Farias, Fernando Teixeira Nicoloso, P. Mangala C.S. De Silva, Ying Lu, Gareth Norton, Eureka Adomako, Andy J. Green, Eduardo Moreno-Jiménez, Yongguan ZhuÁngel Antonio Carbonell-Barrachina, Parvez I. Haris, Youssef F. Lawgali, Alessia Sommella, Massimo Pigna, Catherine Brabet, Didier Montet, Keston Njira, Michael J. Watts, Mahmud Hossain, M. Rafiqul Islam, Yasna Tapia, Carla Oporto, Andrew A. Meharg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)
110 Downloads (Pure)


One of cadmium’s major exposure routes to humans is through rice consumption. The concentrations of cadmium in the global polished (white), market rice supply-chain were assessed in 2270 samples, purchased from retailers across 32 countries, encompassing 6 continents. It was found on a global basis that East Africa had the lowest cadmium with a median for both Malawi and Tanzania at 4.9 μg/kg, an order of magnitude lower than the highest country, China with a median at 69.3 μg/kg. The Americas were typically low in cadmium, but the Indian sub-continent was universally elevated. In particular certain regions of Bangladesh had high cadmium, that when combined with the high daily consumption rate of rice of that country, leads to high cadmium exposures. Concentrations of cadmium were compared to the European Standard for polished rice of 200 μg/kg and 5% of the global supply-chain exceeded this threshold. For the stricter standard of 40 μg/kg for processed infant foods, for which rice can comprise up to 100% by composition (such as rice porridges, puffed rice cereal and cakes), 25% of rice would not be suitable for making pure rice baby foods. Given that rice is also elevated in inorganic arsenic, the only region of the world where both inorganic arsenic and cadmium were low in grain was East Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalExposure and Health
Early online date02 Mar 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 02 Mar 2020


  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Exposure route
  • Rice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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