THE National Food Authority (NFA) in Davao is set to submit a sample of the allegedly "fake rice" to the Food Development Center (FDC) in Metro Manila for further laboratory analysis.
NFA-Davao assistant manager Elaine Respecia said in a phone interview with Sun.Star Davao that they are currently conducting a test on the raw rice taken from a trader in Bansalan, Davao del Sur.
But she added that they are not sure if they are testing the exact "rice" the complainant, identified as Carmencita Grino from Matina Aplaya, Davao City, was referring to since the sample she submitted to the agency is already cooked.
"With our initial investigation, the alleged 'fake rice' reported by a woman in Matina Aplaya came from Cabantian, which was sourced from Bansalan. Then, we asked for a sample of the 'raw rice' in Bansalan for testing if it is synthetic or not but we have no assurance if it is the exact rice the complainant was referring to since we cannot test the 'cooked rice' itself," Respecia said, adding that the agency already sought an assistance from FDC, the agency that has a testing device capable of detecting even a "cooked rice."
Based on investigation conducted by NFA, the sack of "fake rice" from Bansalan has no marks or labels.
The "fake rice," according to Grino, looked clean and high quality, but when the rice was cooked, it would become compressed like a styrofoam.
The raw rice laboratory analysis will took three or more days to confirm and analyze its chemical component.
The Department of Health in Davao Region, through the Food and Drugs Administration, also conducted a laboratory analysis of the "cooked fake rice" in its satellite laboratory in Tagum City. The result of the test will be released in seven to 10 days.
Meanwhile, Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of Senate agriculture and food committee, urged the Department of Agriculture and NFA to conduct a nationwide inspection on warehouses and rice shops to identify the illegal peddlers of fake rice and be penalized under existing laws.
Under Senate Bill 2765 or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, which Villar authored, smuggling of fake rice would be declared as economic sabotage if the measure is enacted into law.
She said the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Coast Guard must continue guarding the country's ports for the possible illegal entry of fake rice as this could be mixed with normal rice.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also warned traders on Sunday against entertaining the idea of bringing in fake rice in the city.