Decoding the Plastic Rice Rumor: A Study

There was a huge rumour few years ago that China had manufactured and managed to sell rice made out of plastic in the Indian state of Kerela. This was rapidly spread as news by media. But when food commission and judiciary inquired and tested the rice it was confirmed that there was no such thing as plastic rice. This is an interesting read about the same.

Since 2011, social media rumors asserted plastic rice had been manufactured by China and also exported to many countries in the world which were consumed by many people, not as food. Plastic rice probably means rice made from plastic and is manufactured from potatoes, sweet potatoes, and synthetic resin (plastic). The rice is made by mixing the potato material together, shaping it into grains, and then adding the ‘industrial resin’ as a binding agent. Many social media rumors also asserted China for manufacturing Chinese milk and Chinese egg in which melamine was found. This led to 300,000people were injured and at least six infants died in 2008 by this Chinese milk. These rumors were also flooded in the market seven years back where research study says that certain rice factories in China have been producing ‘fake rice substitute’ in place of popular rice namely Wuchang rice and basmati rice for greater profit. Whether plastic rice rumor is correct or not.

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The Allegations

Local media in Asia state that this fake rice was first introduced in Kerala, a southern state in India. Its origin from China but it quickly spread all over the India, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Even famous brands were not safe to buy because many brands sell this plastic rice which results in stomach problems. But not only the poisons which you take in while taking the rice can cause many health issues resulting in poisoning. The media also broadcast that it has been present for a long time. The Malaysian Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry strongly refute the information and claims that the rice they produce and sell is safe to consume. Nevertheless, they state that they cannot guarantee that fake rice imported into the country and sold in small shops. Its responsibility of the buyer to recognize what quality of items they are buying. If you recognize it while cooking at a high temperature it will be seen as it burns like a plastic does.

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Seen in western countries in 2011, the appearance of plastic rice rumor have been unable to locate any substantiated reports that anyone successfully passed off plastic rice off in any of the countries in which rumor took root. As a case study from Indonesia illustrated, the rumor was self- promoting:  one woman exposed to the plastic rice rumor became ill and presumed the fake food she would be heard about was to blame. After all faulty initial testing cemented the belief and soon many people were attributing all illnesses because of plastic rice.

The Confusion-Real or Fake

Flooded with queries from citizens about plastic rice being sold in the market, the Delhi government’s food safety department has negated such rumors after conducting random checks. They collected at least 27 samples- 20 raw samples from the market and seven cooked rice samples from the hotels and restaurants from the city. None proved to be plastic rice. Plastic rice rumors had been making rounds and spread like wildfire in the market. It all started when a customer complained that plastic rice was used to make biryani in Hyderabad.

This news not only grabbed media headlines but became popular on social media. Samples were checked in the food laboratory of the department of food safety. All the samples complied with the specification of regulation no 2.4.6.5 of the food products standards and food additives Regulation Act 2011 which defines the standard of rice. Only four samples were founded misbranded due to labeling violations and one sample of cooked rice contain bacteria which was unsafe for consumption. It was unlikely that plastic rice would be imported to India as it costs much more than normal paddy. Secondly, India produces enough paddy and doesn’t need to import from China.

But this was only the rumors that flooded the market all over the countries and rumors related to food items were not new. This led to many people panicking as the commodities are consumed in vast quantities and any hazardous related to plastic will lead to serious health issues. Soon this problem turns into action and to ascertain into action. As it turns out most of the claims were rumors without any truth. Reports came from Kerala media broadcast the reports with the demonstration that cooking the rice to prove it was a plastic by burning the layer formed on the cooked rice.

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Findings & Conclusion

Based on the direction made by the Kerala government it had been proved that the rice was not made of plastic. The research study of the Scientist also said plastic is a non-biodegradable substance which can’t be reused for further use and digestive substance cannot afford it. So while stating that it can’t be consumed, scientists have doubts about its manufacturing. The Telangana government also tested the sample of rice and sent to food controlling unit for further test. Nigerian report was also published which also shows rice was not plastic.

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