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Audu Ogbeh

FG may ban Chinese rice over fears of plastic content

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There are palpable anxieties across the country as rumours of the circulation of cheap Chinese made ‘Plastic Rice’ grow daily especially in Lagos and other vulnerable border states.

But a top official of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development who pleaded anonymity told Business Hilights Saturday that “Government has heard about it and is trying to find out the true position of the trending news”.

“As a government, it is our duty to do everything possible to protect our citizens especially when it comes to food stuff.

The official disclosed that a special department has been directed to investigate the rumour and report back to the Minister for immediate action.

This ‘plastic rice’ is made by forming potatoes and sweet potatoes into rice-like shape, then adding industrial synthetic resins,” said a food expert. “Since the rice is different from normal rice, it is hard like stone even when cooked.

Moreover, the synthetic resin in it is very harmful to the human body.

It would be recalled that since 2011, the world was alerted to the industrial manufacture of rice by Chinese firms, but analysts say the producers may be cashing in on the recession and high cost of food items to flood the country with the plastic rice.

However, an expert and research officer at Africa Environmental & Economic Peace Mission (AEEPM), Dr. Dan Nnaji who spoke to our correspondent weekend gave hints on how to identify the killer rice.

He listed four-way test including water test, mortar/pestle test, fire test and mold test.

On water test, Nnaji said “empty a tablespoon of raw rice into a glass filled with cold water and mix vigorously. If the rice falls to the bottom of the glass, everything is fine, if on the contrary it floats on the surface, be vigilant, because it surely contains plastic!”

On fire burning test, “Using a lighter and a match, burn a handful of rice. If it catches fire and smells of burnt plastic, you know what to do! Do not eat it!

The mortar and pestle test will show discolouration as when molding a few grains of rice with a mortar and pestle, the powder should be quite white. For artificial rice, you will notice a yellow discoloration instead.

On the last test, Nnaji said “If you want to be sure that you do not risk anything with your cooked rice, put a small amount into a tupperware and leave it in a warm place. In a few days, mold will have to appear; otherwise it is that your rice is artificial”.

Another fact about plastic rice is that it is cheap and sold in obscure angle of the market for fear of security operatives.


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