Ministry of Commerce Tests Perceived Plastic Rice on Liberian Market

  • Monrovia – A brand of rice on the Liberian market – Butter Brand – perceived by the public to be artificial (made of plastic) and imported from China has been proven to real rice by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The Ministry conducted the quality test on the rice at its National Standard Laboratory located on the premises of the Ministry of Public Works in the presence of FrontPageAfrica staff. This was after this paper had confronted the ministry with complaints from consumers of the rice. The Butter Brand rice is imported in the country by Supplying West Africa Trading Inc. located in Sayon Town. It has very high carbohydrate content (very starchy) and often gets very hard after it becomes cold. It is mostly preferred by low-income families because of its ability to swell. Over the weekend, two aggrieved consumers of the rice walked into the offices of FrontPageAfrica with sample of the rice complaining, “We’ve come here to report this case. It is a very serious issue. We bought this rice from the Fula store, but my brother this is plastic rice,” he alleged. He continued, “As soon as this rice gets cold, it becomes hard. We mold it in your hands and bounce it; it will bounce back like ‘ganger ball’. We threw it on the wall, it bounce back to us. “We came here to complain because government cannot allow such rice on the market. This is not good for the citizens. These are some of the foods we eat then we start getting sick, we go to the hospital, they can’t see anything in our system.” According to him, he went back to the store from which he bought the rice in Larkpazee and fortunately met the supplier of the rice offloading supplies so he immediately called some police officers from Salem Police Depot in Airfield Community to the store in Larkpazee. However, to his dismay, after some tussle with the supplier, a Lebanese national, the police received a call after which they informed him that they had been asked to back off. This, according to him, prompted him to report the incident to FrontPageAfrica. Upon being confronted by this paper, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) dispatched a team to SWAT – the supplier on Tuesday morning to collect a sample of the rice for testing. Three quality tests were conducted in the presence of FrontPageAfrica to ascertain the whether the product was indeed rice or another substance. The rice passed the combustion, floating in hot oil and sinking in water tests. With the combustion test, sample of the butter brand rice was placed in a special microwave at a temperature of 550 degrees Celsius. Rice, would burn and turn to ashes during this test while plastic would melt and become compact. During the oil floating method, sample of the butter brand rice was placed in oil heated at a temperature of 200 degree Celsius with the expectation that it would sink and float on the oil which it did to show it is actual rice. Plastic would have melted on top of the oil without sinking. The rice is made in China and has a validity period of five years of five years. Rice is the staple food in Liberia with an annual import of 1.3 metric tons. Speaking to FrontPageAfrica, MOCI Minister said, “China is the largest producer of white rice or sticky rice, but we don’t eat it in Liberia much because it’s perfect when it’s hot but gets hard when it’s cold.” In 2016, Nigerian Police impounded a consignment of 102 bags of 50kg of fake rice believed to be plastic rice. They are suspected to have been smuggled or illegally shipped in from China through Lagos port, a senior customs official in Nigeria’s commercial hub told AFP. The rice was branded “Best Tomato Rice”. The poor quality of facilities like warehouses in which the rice and other food products are stored is a major contributing factor to making some food stuffs unwholesome for consumption, a food analyst at the laboratory told FPA. “Some of these warehouses don’t have good ventilation and even the method through which they transport some of these food stuffs cause the food to drop in quality. For example, rice is not supposed to be transported in an open air truck. Even tarpaulin is not adequate enough to cover the rice. Worst of all, you see some people lying on the rice or water while transporting. This alone can spoil the rice. Their sweat can diffuse into the rice,” the analyst said.
  • Plastic rice? Traders say there’s no such thing

  • KARACHI: Rice exporters and traders have ruled out there’s any such thing as “plastic rice” or rice mixed with plastic, after videos doing the rounds on social media asserted that plastic rice was being manufactured on a large scale in some countries and was smuggled into Pakistan as well.

    Besides, the market is abuzz with reports that a person complained about purchasing rice from a leading superstore in Karachi and later claimed that it was plastic rice.

    Rice is a staple in Pakistan. It is the third-largest crop after wheat and cotton in the country, and is grown over 10 per cent of the total cropped area, according to the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP).

    “There’s no such thing as plastic rice,” said Jawed Ali Ghori, a former chairman of REAP. “Plastic is costlier than rice. How can it be mixed with rice? Or how can plastic rice be consumed by humans as it will cause death?”

    Mr Ghori said there should be no concern as Pakistanis ate only locally produced rice and the commodity was not imported. “Instead, China imports Basmati 86 rice and other varieties from Pakistan,” he said.

    He said the government of Dubai has tested various qualities of rice arriving in the emirate and have found them fit for human consumption.

    Another former chairman of REAP, Mohammad Rahim Janoo, said an “international mafia” was trying to destroy the rice trade. He said raids were conducted in some stores in Kenya and Nigeria on reports of the sale of plastic rice, but the authorities did not find anything.

    Moreover, making rice from plastic was not feasible, he said. For instance, the export price of Irri-6 rice is $400-450 a tonne while raw plastic price is $850-900 a tonne.

    The chairman of Pakistan Plastic Manufacturers Association, Ehteshamuddin, said plastic moulding compound (PMC) was costlier than rice and therefore nobody could mix plastic in rice or make plastic rice.

    Giving an example, he said the average price of PMC was Rs75 a pound and it cost Rs165 a kilogram.

    After processing, its price swells to Rs200 per kg. In contrast, the price of different varieties of rice hovers between Rs40 and Rs140 per kg. Another high-quality PMC carries the price of Rs125 per pound.

    Pakistan imports 80-90pc of PMC from the Far East and the Middle East for making plastic products like household items, chairs and car bumpers.

    The chairman of Karachi Wholesalers Grocers Association, Anis Majeed, said there have been no reports so far of any smuggling or illegal arrival of plastic rice into Pakistan from any country.

    The videos shared on the social media show that plastic rice is highly sticky and take a round or oval ball shape in hand before eating.

    He said the new variety of any rice usually has stickiness, and Chinese were particularly fond of Pakistani basmati 86 and Irri rice from new crop.

    Pakistan exported 409,669 tonnes of basmati rice in July-May fetching $383 million as compared to 439,662 tonnes ($407.7m) in the same period of last year, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

    Exports of other rice varieties fell to 2.89m tonnes ($1bn) during the same period as against 3.49m tonnes ($1.31bn) a year ago.

    During the preceding fiscal year, rice was sowed on 2,724,000 hectares, almost the same area as compared with a year earlier. Rice production in 2016-17 stood at 6,849,000 tonnes, which was both higher than the year’s target and previous year’s production.

    Rice area decreased due to decline in domestic prices of rice and growers shifted to sugarcane and maize crop.

  • Domestic trade ministry awaits reports from Chemistry Dept on ‘plastic rice’

  • Three samples of rice, alleged to be ‘plastic rice’ have taken from a supermarket in Kulai, for tests by the Chemistry Department. — Reuters file pic Three samples of rice, alleged to be ‘plastic rice’ have taken from a supermarket in Kulai, for tests by the Chemistry Department. — Reuters file picJOHOR BAHRU, June 10 — The Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism (KPDNKK) has sent three samples of rice, alleged to be ‘plastic rice’ taken from a supermarket in Kulai, to the Chemistry Department to determine its authenticity. Johor KPDNKK enforcement chief Aris Mamat said they had conducted inspection at the supermarket and ordered the product not to be sold to consumers. “On June 7 at about 7pm, we went to the supermarket and took three samples of the rice and sent them to Chemistry Department here to identify the content of the product. “The results from these samples will be announced as soon as possible. If it is true the said product contains plastic, we will take take measures to ensure consumers’ safety,” he said today. Aris said he had received one report on the ‘plastic rice’ and would take the similar action in the event of other complaints being lodged. “Since this case occurred in Kulai, we went to the location to investigate and as the product carries an address in Kedah, we have asked for help from Kedah KPDNKK to help investigate the product,” he added. The ‘plastic rice’ issue went viral after a man lodged a police report after finding the rice he bought was difficult to chew. The man known as P. Bhaskaran, 61, who bought the five kilograms rice at RM21.85, also claimed to have burnt the rice and found that it emitted plastic smell. — Bernama - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/domestic-trade-ministry-awaits-reports-from-chemistry-dept-on-plastic-rice#sthash.HysneERe.dpuf
  • Fact check: Is there such a thing called ‘plastic’ rice?

  • Several complaints and rumours of ‘plastic rice’ in Telangana and Andhra have left people anxious.
     
     
     
    People in Telangana and Andhra have been a worried lot as several complaints and rumours of 'plastic rice' have been doing the rounds on television and social media.  While some people in Visakhapatnam district filed a police complaint on the matter on Wednesday, some stalls at Vijayawada's Indira Gandhi Municipal Stadium have stopped selling biriyani following poor sales for the last five days. Meanwhile, Hyderabad saw complaints of 'plastic rice' from areas like Charminar, Yousufguda, Saroornagar and Meerpet. Complaints and rumours of 'plastic rice', made its way to Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday, as many traders and restaurants saw a dip in customers due to messages doing the rounds on social media.  Following this, the Telangana Food and Civil Supplies Department took note of the matter and conducted various samples of the suspected 'plastic rice'. What is plastic rice? "There is nothing called 'plastic' rice in the first place. The term itself came after a video from China went viral on social media last year. No one has ever proved that such a thing exists," Osman Mohiuddin, a quality control analyst from the state department tell TNM. The rice in fact, may only be adulterated, but nothing more, experts say.  The video that Mohiuddin is referring to went viral last year on Chinese social media, and showed workers feeding plastic waste into a machine, with the end result being white, rice-like granules. However, it was reported at the time, that the factory was merely producing plastic granules aimed for industrial use. How can we tell if the rice is organic? Mohiuddin says that there is a very simple method to differentiate rice from anything that could potentially not be rice.  "Just put it in some water. If it sinks, then its organic rice. If it doesn't, it could be mixed with some other material," he says. This is different from when some uncooked rice grains float on the water, after being unable to penetrate the water's surface tension. The state department also conducted chemical tests on the rice that was collected. “We first took small amount of rice grains, and poured 20ml of Methylene blue in it. After washing it with Hydrochloric acid, we poured another 20ml of Methylene yellow. The colour changed to greenish. if it was not normal rice, the colour would have remained white,” Mohiuddin says.  Other claims In the case of the reports from Hyderabad, a video that went viral on social media, showed a bunch of youth opening a rice packet, and clumping it together till it became a ball. After that, the youth bounced the 'ball' on the table, and claimed that it was bouncing because it was 'plastic' rice. However, authorities have since debunked that claim. “We cooked a certain amount of the rice we tested. It usually becomes a little paste-like after cooking. When you make balls out of the cooked pasty rice and drop it on a surface, it bounces a little bit. It is nothing unusual,” Mohiuddin says.  Nageshwar Rao, Deputy General Manager of the Civil Supplies Department in Hyderabad also said that the rice showed no signs of being tampered with.  Another major report of this fake rice came from Nigeria in December 2016. Claiming that 50kg of rice with no date of manufacture were intercepted, The Guardian reported that a preliminary analysis of the rice showed that it was 'sticky'. However, it gave no further details. A few days later, officials said that the rice was just contaminated and contained bacteria "above permissible limits."   Additionally, traders argue that even the process of making 'plastic' rice is counter-productive. “Andhra Pradesh is considered to be the rice bowl of India and we have production sufficient for the next three or four years. The cost of rice is cheaper than the cost of plastic rice. There is no chance of plastic rice being sold in the state,” Secretary of the Rice Traders Association, Konijeti Prasad, told Deccan Chronicle. For now, officials say that there is no reason to panic as none of the claims have stood up scrutiny in a scientific lab. "We have sent the samples to the State Food Laboratory for further testing. We expect the results in a few days," Mohiuddin says.
  • Fear of plastic rice grips Telugu states

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    JBS Umanadh, Hyderabad, DH News Service Jun 7 2017, 16:43 IST
    A fear psychosis has gripped in towns and cities including Hyderabad that the rice available in shops is no more real.  Fuelled by social media postings that eating such synthetic rice will cause serious stomach disorders, the legal metrology department has stepped in to seize the so-called plastic rice made in China and Vietnam from different locations. Deccan Herald photoA fear psychosis has gripped in towns and cities including Hyderabad that the rice available in shops is no more real. Fuelled by social media postings that eating such synthetic rice will cause serious stomach disorders, the legal metrology department has stepped in to seize the so-called plastic rice made in China and Vietnam from different locations. Deccan Herald photo
    Everyone in the Telugu States is trying to find out whether the rice they are eating is real or fake by rolling the rice into a ball and banging it on the floor as they were told that plastic rice will bounce back like a ball once it’s cooked. A fear psychosis has gripped in towns and cities including Hyderabad that the rice available in shops is no more real. Fuelled by social media postings that eating such synthetic rice will cause serious stomach disorders, the legal metrology department has stepped in to seize the so-called plastic rice made in China and Vietnam from different locations. The first ever case was reported from Saroornagar where a hotel has reportedly served Biryani made out of plastic rice to a journalist. However, the hotel owners bashed him when he tried to make a complaint that his biryani looked and smelled like plastic. The hotel owners were arrested and the biryani sample has been seized by the police. “I took some rice, made it like a ball and hit it, it bounced back,” the journo said. In Mirpet here a customer Mr Ashok purchased a 25 kg bag of rice from a local vendor who offered the Rs 1100 bag of rice at Rs 900. “However after eating the rice, I had nausea. I slept for hours like I was drugged. After hearing about plastic rice on TV news I also tried banging the rice on the floor and it bounced back,” Ashok who recorded the bouncing rice on his mobile told reporters and police. Several PG hostels in Amirpet and Hitech city also complained that their food was laced with plastic rice and even plastic eggs. Meanwhile, in Oguru village of Kandukuru in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh, one Polipudi Madhava Rao purchased 25 kg branded rice bag at Rs 900 as a special offer from More store at Kandukuru. He complained plastic smell emanating from the rice and also found the bouncy qualities that many others were complaining. The local Tahasildar seized 25 Gajanan brand rice bags from the stores and sent samples for testing. Even as the test results were awaited the state Janavignana Vedika, a social awareness organization has trashed the news as fear psychosis. “There is nothing like plastic rice as it would cost more to produce it than growing rice. Any rice after cooking will bounce back,” JVV general secretary T Ramesh said. He suggested that plastic rice can be identified by simply dropping a tablespoon of raw rice inside a glass of water; if the rice floats at the top then it is considered as plastic rice.
  • Naini admin raids shops after complaints of ‘plastic rice’

  • Nainital: The Nainital district administration raided several shops in Haldwani on Wednesday after residents of the city complained that some shops were selling adulterated rice which was allegedly made of plastic and brought from China. This comes a day after rumours of alleged sale of plastic rice at some grocery stores caused a scare among people of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday. The Nainital district administration has collected rice samples from various shops for testing in the laboratory. Some residents have also complained about plastic eggs being sold in the market. Dipendra Chaudhary, district magistrate of Nainital, said, “A magisterial inquiry has been ordered. Two teams have been constituted and raids conducted at various shops.” The samples have been sent to the laboratory in Rudrapur for testing, according to Kailash Chandra Tamta, food inspector, Haldwani. “Conclusive proof of whether the samples are adulterated can only be established after the lab results are out,” Tamta said.
  • Police urge calm after plastic rice claims in Hyderabad

  • Students said the rice was very sticky and they made balls and played cricket with them
    Hyderabad: Police on Tuesday appealed for calm as alleged incidents of sale of plastic rice and plastic eggs were reported in Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district. Two incidents of ‘plastic rice’ surfaced in Yousufguda and Meerpet areas in Hyderabad on Tuesday. Inmates of a private hostel in Yousufguda complained that the cooked rice provided to them Monday night was plastic rice as it tasted differently. The students said the rice was very sticky and they made balls and played cricket with them. Claiming that the eggs bought by the hostel owner were also of plastic, the students lodged a complaint with Yousufguda police station. Authorities collected the samples and launched investigations. In another incident in Meerpet on the city outskirts, a citizen complained that the rice he purchased from a local merchant was plastic rice. He too lodged a complaint with the police. The incidents came two days after a TV journalist in Saroornagar area was attacked by a hotel owner and his aides after he complained about plastic rice in ‘biryani’. Meanwhile, police in the old city of Hyderabad said that a complaint about plastic rice was lodged at Mir Chowk police station but an analysis of the sample in laboratory revealed that it was not plastic though hazardous. Deputy Commissioner of Police V. Satyanarayana told reporters on Tuesday that the analysis showed that during polishing of the rice, chemicals beyond permissible limits were used. While there was no need for any panic, people should remain alert and bring to the notice of police any instance of sale of plastic rice, he said. An alleged incident of plastic rice sale in the temple town of Srisailam in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh also created flutter on Monday. Some people complained that a merchant sold them plastic rice. Police said they were investigating. Experts say that it’s easy to detect plastic rice. If rice is poured in a water container and falls to the bottom, it is organic rice, else it is plastic rice. Also if cooked rice is kept for a longer period, fungus get deposited if the rice is organic. According to doctors, if plastic is consumed on sustained basis, it leads to hormonal imbalance, digestion, absorption problems, birth defects and even cancer.
  • Dubai Municipality scotches plastic rice rumours

  • Call on 800900 and 8000555 (Abu Dhabi) to dispel doubts

     
    In response to a rumor circulating in the social media channels regarding plastic rice being sold in Dubai markets, Dubai Municipality has clarified that there is nothing in the market known as plastic rice and it is only a figment of imagination. Iman Al Bastaki, Director of Food Safety Department at Dubai Municipality pointed out that the report lacks credibility and it is insignificant. "Reports like these are issued from time to time to question the safety of food available in the emirate's markets. All types of rice available in Dubai markets are natural. Though high or low quality types of rice are available; they are within the approved specifications," she said. "There is no plastic rice in our markets. If it is there, it is easy to detect by sensing it or during cooking or adding any materials such as butter or oil, which will easily turn into a plastic mass by heat. The Municipality therefore urges consumers not to spread misleading and unrealistic rumors," added Al Bastaki. She said the municipality devoted a large force of observers and inspectors in all areas concerning the protection of public health and food. The official clarification comes within the "Confirmed News" initiative launched by Dubai Municipality, which aims to reduce the circulation of rumors that are spread through the means of social media and to correct false news and malicious rumors and address them quickly. In a post on its Instagram account, the municipality said the rumour regarding plastic rice is a manipulation. Dubai Municipality appealed to the public to always call on 800900 whenever they encounter such rumours. It stressed that all the food that enters the Emirate undergoes checks, and random samples are taken on a regular basis before it reaches the food markets.
  • Gambia: The Alleged Fake Plastic Rice

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    Photo: Vanguard
    Rumors about the existence of plastic rice is worrying Gambian consumers.
    EDITORIAL

    Rice being amongst predominant stable food items consumed on daily basis in The Gambia and most countries in the Sub-region and beyond, should never be abused, exploited and use as a tool for instilling fear and panic in people, knowing the implications of consuming.

    Rumours about existence of an alleged plastic rice in town has occasioned serious concern from the general public at both domestic and international levels, especially Gambians abroad through relaying of what they called "bouncing unbreakable based ball made of the alleged plastic rice" on social media platform to either their relatives or associates back home.

    This alleged video has attracted thousands of viewers both literates and illiterates as far as the most remote settlement of the country, characterized by consistent discussions and debate about its possible existence in our markets; how it found its way into the country and for what purpose, still continues to be an issue in the country.

    Similar deep sense of concern has been exhibited by the government, through Food Safety and Quality Authority in a short precise rebuttal about rumour of the said plastic rice available for sale in our markets, like every other genuine food item.

    The Authority's denial of the life threatening said product has greatly reduced tensions in town, despite many seemed not completely convinced about its none availability as the alleged video continues to take its share on weak and vulnerable minds.

    The press release issued from the Food Authority supported by evidence of food inspectors' finding of no such available plastic rice in our markets, holds water and shows no cause for panic as such findings were based on professional trained skills in the world of detection and appreciation of bad food items in the country in line with terms and references guiding their professional code of conduct.

    Though we could not verify the true origin of the alleged video in question, it's rather unfortunate that certain people could resort to such unacceptable and ungodly behaviour in the name of newly found democracy with assurance of freedom of speech, expression among other fundamental constitutional rights.

    The inventor and source of spreading it in our motherland, could never be forgiven for causing such a terror and panic in the country, as well as its impact on the world of commerce in a country, with high dependence on importation of food items like rice.

  • Foreign Trade Dept rejects “plastic mixed with rice” claim

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    Mixing expensive plastic with cheap rice makes no sense, the Foreign Trade Dept says in rejecting a foreigner's claim that her package was a rice-plastic combination. The Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) has rejected a foreigner's claim that a package of Thai rice produced by a popular brand that she received contained grain mixed with plastic. The woman wrote on her Facebook page she received two packages of rice as a gift from her sisters. She said after she opened one bag, she saw the rice was mixed with plastic. In a video posted on her Facebook page, grains were put in a wok and stirred for about five minutes, and the grains turned black. "This was what we got. This is too crazy," she wrote. Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the DFT, said the grain cited in the post is a Thai rice brand of premium grade. It is the most popular Thai rice brand, which has been marketed in the United States for a long time. The DFT, rice importers and exporters assumed the woman may not understand how to cook the rice or intended to ruin the reputation of Thai jasmine rice, she said. Authorities are looking for the woman to forge an understanding. The woman appearsto be of Asian descent and lives in New York and California, according to Ms Duangporn. Asked whether legal action would be taken against her, Ms Duangporn said rice importers are looking for ways to take care of the issue. The DFT is also checking reports of a consumer in Vancouver, Canada, complainingthe rice served at a food court was fake, though the person did not indicate where the grain came from, said Ms Duangporn, adding it is important to find out the source of the rice and boost customer understanding. Claims that the rice is fake or mixed with plastic cannot be true since plastic would melt when it is heated, she said. It does not make sense to replace rice, which costs 20 baht a kilogramme, with plastic which costs 40 baht per kilogramme, she said. Rice for export must be carefully examined against standardised criteria, and people should be confident the exported Thai rice is of good quality, the DFT chief said. According to Ms Duangporn, 2.3 million tonnes of jasmine rice were exported last year, higher than the average of one million tonnes per year. Of this, 476,000 tonnes were shipped to the US. As for overall rice, 9.6 million tonnes, worth 150 billion baht, was exported last year, while 9.5 million tonnes are projected to be exported this year.