My dad is being especially paranoid of this. He claims to have read a paper years ago that said that the standard in rice processing was bleaching the rice to produce "whiter" rice.

I've been searching everywhere, and for only weird fringe sites, most of the main sites (Wikipedia, some other cooking websites) make no mention of bleach.

Is my father being paranoid about this? Or are his claims substantiated?

  • I'm not answering because I don't know, but my gut strongly says no. Rice is cultivated and processed all over the world, and in many cultures, it is revered. I could believe it for generic white rice in the US, but I've never noticed that "our" white rice is any whiter than anyone else's. That combined with the fact that bleaching would add expense to the processing makes me very dubious.
    – Jolenealaska
    Aug 3, 2014 at 2:32
  • No. White rice is often parboiled, but it is the cereal grain stripped of its hull through a milling/mechanical process not a chemical one. Aug 3, 2014 at 2:34

2 Answers 2


No. It is not general practice to add bleach to rice. The brown rice bran is removed through mechanical processes. As to whether he should continue to indulge this worry...I'd be more concerned about [insert common American male problem here] before ammonia in rice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138007/ This review has many free references in it. Should you want further peer-review reading, I can provide it.

  • There are so very many other dietary choices/problems to be worried about above the chances that one is consuming second-hand bleach from rice. Aug 3, 2014 at 9:27
  • I didn't intend to sidetrack your inquiry with the [Common American male problem] thing. It was a...thinly veiled attempt at tounge-in-cheek humor. My tone missed the mark it seems, and now the whole internet knows I can't tell a good Dad joke. facepalm Aug 3, 2014 at 22:36

White rice is bleached. You can find videos on you tube that show you the process.

  • 2
    @ChingChong youtube.com/watch?v=7N71zA2GlkA The title is "RICE BLEACHED WITH WHITENING CHEMICALS," but it would be useful to know whether the news coverage says "every company does this" or "bleaching is absurd and illegal and the company is in trouble"
    – Erica
    Feb 6, 2015 at 16:00
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    @Erica: Phew: The newsspeaker says: A problem emerges in Vietnam: the practice of bleacing rice gets out of hands. Bleaching rice with whatever-peroxide is forbidden in many countries. However, in Vietnam it is permitted to bleach and to sell the bleached rice. Bleached rice looks clean and white and doesn't mold and won't be infested by bugs. Rice is (usually?) treated by other chemicals (so that they retain their aroma as long as possible? [note: I unterstood something with "rice", "aroma" and "sold in Saigon" (HCM-City)]). Feb 6, 2015 at 16:35
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    TL;DR: Bleaching is forbidden in many countries. However, in Vietnam bleaching is allowed and some people do this. The report does not say that everyone does that. Feb 6, 2015 at 16:39
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    @ChingChong Oh, it may only be in the HTML5 player. youtube.com/html5
    – Cascabel
    Feb 6, 2015 at 16:51
  • 2
    This has been flagged a bit. I'm not deleting: it's wrong (or at least misleading) but it is an answer.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 7, 2015 at 0:33

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