RICE, the staple food in Filipino diet, is found to have cancer-causing toxins.

A study made by Je Won Park of Ewha Woman’s University in South Korea, found that uncooked rice contains aflatoxin B1, a carcinogenic fungus that can cause liver cancer if taken excessively.

“But pressure-cooking appears to largely eliminate the poison from rice,” Park said.

Dr. Rosario Arim, head of the Mycotoxin Laboratory of Department of Science and Technology’s Research Utility and Management Division, said pressure-cooking could lessen aflatoxins.

“Reduction of aflatoxins using pressurized cooking would depend on pressure, temperature, and length of treatment,” Arim said. “However, aflatoxin level in rice is generally very low, so this need not cause alarm among rice farmers and consumers.”

Concepcion Ferolin of the same laboratory explained that other means to lessen aflatoxin contamination include proper storage and processing.

“The rice grains that are usually contaminated are those stored for a long time without proper drying. These grains have the tendency to produce molds, forming toxins. Milling rice is needed to surface aflatoxins to the bran, the outer layer of grains,” Ferolin said, citing a University of the Philippines-Manila study, which tested aflatoxin levels in ground and milled rice.

While pressure cookers are costly and unavailable to most homes, both Arim and Ferolin believe with proper storage, milling, washing, and cooking, Filipinos can continue to enjoy eating rice safely. Kingbherly L. Li

Sources: www.sciencenews.org and Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

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