Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Nutrient Data Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #223297

Title: White rice sold in Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan often lacks nutrient enrichment

item Gebhardt, Susan
item Holden, Joanne

Submitted to: Journal of American Dietetic Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/21/2009
Publication Date: 8/26/2009
Citation: Guerrero, R., Gebhardt, S.E., Holden, J.M., Kretsch, M., Todd, K., Novotny, R., Murphy, S. 2009. White rice sold in Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan often lacks nutrient enrichment. Journal of American Dietetic Association. 109(10):1738:1743.

Interpretive Summary: Rice is a primary staple food for many Pacific cultures including those of Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan. Both enriched and unenriched rice are available in retail stores, making it difficult to estimate intakes of the four enrichment nutrients: thiamin, niacin, iron and folic acid. We undertook an evaluation of the availability of enriched rice in stores on these three islands, and sent samples of rice to analytical laboratories for analysis of the enrichment nutrients. For comparison, 3 samples of rice from California that were labeled enriched were also analyzed. The largest size bags in Hawaii and Saipan (20-50 lb) were almost never labeled as enriched, although most of the smaller bags of rice (2-10 lb) were labeled as enriched. In Guam, most of the bags were labeled as enriched, regardless of the size. Twelve samples of rice labeled as enriched and seven samples of rice labeled unenriched from these Pacific Islands were analyzed. One sample of enriched rice from Saipan met minimum enrichment requirements based on the standard of identity for enriched rice in the Code of Federal Regulations. All but one of the samples labeled enriched from Guam and Hawaii fell significantly below the minimum enrichment standard for thiamin, niacin, and iron. All 3 samples from California met the minimum enrichment standards. Dietitians, nutritionists, and others who plan or evaluate the diets of these Pacific Island populations cannot assume that rice is enriched, even when it is so labeled. Intake of the enrichment nutrients among this population may not be as high as estimated when it was assumed that all rice consumed was enriched.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to determine the levels of enrichment nutrients (thiamin, niacin, iron, and folic acid) in white rice sold in Guam, Hawaii, and Saipan. Bags of white rice were purchased in Guam (n = 8), Saipan (n = 3), Hawaii (n = 8), and California (n = 3). Fifteen of the 22 rice samples were labeled "enriched." Samples were sent to a laboratory for analysis. Actual levels of enrichment were compared to the minimum enrichment standards. The proportion of white rice that was labeled enriched varied by type, bag size, and location. Most long-grain rice was labeled enriched, while most Calrose rice was not. Bags of either type weighing over 10 pounds were seldom labeled enriched in Hawaii or Saipan. Laboratory analyses showed that few of the samples in Hawaii or Guam met the minimum enrichment standards for the U.S., even when the package label indicated that the product was enriched. All samples from California met the enrichment standards. In conclusion, nutritionists who are planning or evaluating the diets of these Pacific island populations can not assume that rice is enriched.