The Hazards of Rice Milk

Written by laurel ahnert
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The Hazards of Rice Milk
Unlike cow's milk, which comes from an animal, rice milk is processed from plants. (Kevin Forest/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Rice milk is made from rice flour, typically from brown rice. It does not contain any lactose, which is good for those who have a lactose-intolerance, and it is beneficial for those watching their fat and cholesterol intake as well. There are some hazards to drinking rice milk, however, and it is important to know all the facts.

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For People with Rice Allergies and Sensitivities

Rice is not one of the most common food allergies for Europeans, but some people, especially of East Asian decent, do have an allergic reaction to eating rice and rice products. Food allergies can cause swelling around the throat and mouth, breathing problems and skin rashes. Some people who are not allergic but have a rice sensitivity can experience digestive discomfort, headaches, skin problems and other minor medical issues.

For People Watching their Carbs

Because it is made from a grain, rice milk is high in carbohydrates. This can be a problem for diabetics and people watching their carb intake. A single serving of an unsweetened rice milk formula has a total of 24g of carbohydrates, whereas a serving of 2 per cent cow milk has half as many carbs. Many rice milk brands also add sugar to the milk for better flavour, but the fibre has been mostly removed through processing. The combination of these two things can potentially contribute to a spike in blood sugar levels.

During Processing

Like any processed product, rice milk can be contaminated during its production and transportation. Rice milk processing companies often manufacture other products in the same facility, which can migrate into the rice milk if not properly maintained. For example, people with a gluten intolerance may find they react to rice milk as well because many producers of rice milk also process rye and barley products, which may have inadvertently contaminated the rice milk during production. If the rice milk is improperly handled at any point during processing and transportation, it can be contaminated by food pathogens, just like any other grocery item.

For Children and Toddlers

Unfortified rice milk will not have the same vitamins and minerals as regular milk, especially B12, which are important for early childhood development. Most rice milk is fortified, however, so this is less of a concern. More importantly, any rice milk that does not have the USDA's official organic seal will likely be contaminated by pesticides. These pesticides have been shown to increase the levels of arsenic in rice milk. The ingestion of enough arsenic can contribute to the development of certain cancers in your body. These trace levels of arsenic have been deemed "safe" for adult consumption, but not safe for children and toddlers.

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