So,-you’ve checked out all the ingredients for the meal tonight, to be sure that you’re not going to accidentally poison your gluten free child with wheat – but you might just have missed something …

Green Fertility points out a recent story in the New York Times about carcinogenic arsenic contaminating rice fields in southern-central American states, due to years of using arsenic as a pesticide when the fields were used to grow cotton.

I know that we see one scare story after another, until it becomes difficult to remember whether you’re supposed to be eating butter or not this week – but this story is disconcerting. The researchers (from the University of Aberdeen) note that some groups of people eat more rice than the average – and of course coeliacs (or celiacs) are some of them. Result: their exposure may exceed the established “limits” for arsenic intake.

We all know that arsenic is a poison from reading murder mysteries – in the stories, people collapse and die instantly. Taken at lower levels, arsenic is carcinogenic, and can cause skin, reproductive, developmental and other disorders.

Not good.

We have rice in our cupboard – yes, American long-grain, but also Thai fragrant rice, a couple of different risotto rices from Italy, and some short-grain pudding rice. I might just have to check the label on the next American rice I buy, but it will only say ‘Product of USA’, not ‘Contains Arsenic’. Is this story likely to impact the sales of rice from Arkansas and Louisiana? I suspect only if it is taken up by a famous chef or other celebrity pundit.

In the meantime, I’m going to go and plant a vegetable garden – I know where the soil in my garden has been. Rice-growing, though, is beyond me …