IS THERE such a thing as fake rice? This is an interesting question considering the uproar created by reports about supposedly fake rice cooked by a Davao City resident. The report became sensational because one, nobody thought it was possible to fake rice and two, it sparked worries about its spread and threat to people’s health.
But can rice be faked? To fake rice, the grains must so look like the real ones rice consumers will buy these. If a “technology” exists for that, the rice also needs to taste like the real one or nobody will buy it, which means nobody will invest in its production and trading.
Stories about Chinese firms mass producing “fake rice” are largely being circulated on the Internet without confirmation. The rice is supposedly made by mixing potatoes with industrial synthetic resin and a dash of polymer. The grains supposedly stay hard even after these are cooked, which is not surprising because of the plastic.
Yet subsequent stories about “fake rice” surfacing in such countries as Singapore, India and Malaysia have been debunked by authorities. The latest is the “fake rice” in Davao City that experts said during a Senate hearing yesterday is actually contaminated rice—meaning the grains are real rice but were laced with chemicals.
Former senator Francis Pangilinan of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agriculture also noted that the contaminated rice “is isolated in Davao.” Tests for the other supposedly fake rice in other areas turned out to be negative.
Why the contamination? The Senate probe wasn’t able to establish the motive but a search on the Internet would show another angle of the “fake rice” story, which is that some unscrupulous Chinese traders are turning ordinary rice into the popular (in China) Wuchang rice by adding essences to the grains. But even that story needs confirmation.
What we are saying is that jumping to conclusions is not the way to go in the “fake rice” story. That story needs confirmation at various levels, like whether a “technology” already exists to mass produce “fake rice” and whether “fake rice” and not merely contaminated rice is already sold in the country.