U.S. flag An official website of the United States government
  1. Home
  2. Food
  3. Chemicals, Metals & Pesticides in Food
  4. Metals and Your Food
  5. Arsenic in Food and Dietary Supplements
  1. Metals and Your Food

Arsenic in Food and Dietary Supplements

Arsenic in Food and Dietary Supplements

The FDA monitors and regulates levels of arsenic in certain foods because it can cause serious and life-threatening health problems. The FDA also monitors arsenic levels in dietary supplements and cosmetics.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in the environment that can enter the food supply through soil, water or air. Arsenic levels in the environment are generally low but can vary depending on the natural geological makeup of local areas. For example, volcanic eruptions can bring arsenic from the earth’s interior to the surface. Contamination from mining, fracking, coal-fired power plants, arsenic-treated lumber, and arsenic-containing pesticides also contribute to increased levels of arsenic in certain locations.

As a naturally occurring element, it is not possible to remove arsenic entirely from the environment or food supply. The FDA, therefore, seeks to limit consumer exposure to arsenic to the greatest extent feasible. As part of this effort, in 2017 the FDA created the Toxic Elements Working Group, in part, to reevaluate when the FDA should take action on measured levels of arsenic in particular foods.

Tips for Limiting Exposure to Arsenic

  • Check your well water
  • Eat a varied and nutritious diet
  • Learn about juice recommendations for children
  • Get strategies for rice and infant rice cereal

Learn more on What You Can Do to Limit Exposure to Arsenic.