First there were artificial eggs from China and now plastic rice said to be exported to several Asian nations. Social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook have been circulating the news of the fake rice that has now believed to have entered Singapore.
Health experts and dieticians have warned that consuming such fake grains, laced with poisonous resin, could seriously damage the digestive system.
It is reported that the plastic rice was commonly sold in Chinese markets, especially in Taiyuan in Shaanxi province, China.
Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Hasan Malek said he too had heard about the fake rice and warned that his ministry did not take such things lightly.
“The news can be true or false; we don’t know.”
“We also don’t know if the fake rice has entered the country but we cannot take such things lightly and will carry out investigations nationwide,” The Star Online quoted Hasan as saying yesterday.
The plastic rice, reportedly made from potatoes and sweet potatoes, with synthetic resin moulded into the shape of real rice, is said to have made its way into countries with large rural populations such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam and lately, Singapore.
The rice is said to stay hard even after it has been cooked.
Hasan said the investigating team would focus on small sundry shops to check whether they were selling the fake rice, especially in the outskirts and rural areas.
“We will conduct our investigations, but I would like to urge consumers to come forward and report to the ministry if they come across such rice.
“All reports made will be treated confidentially,” he said, adding that the ministry would take action against errant traders.
Sources from the rice industry said that if indeed fake rice had entered the country, it would not be sold openly at supermarkets and hypermarkets.
Smugglers have been known to use various methods to bring in the product as they know it would be hard to detect if the plastic rice was to be mixed with normal rice, he said.