The National Food Authority (NFA) assures the public that there is no proof that fake rice is being sold in Philippine markets at present. The agency conducts daily monitoring of the rice market situation and has not found any adulterated or unusual rice stocks in any of the markets covered.
Nevertheless, reports in social media showing alleged fake or plastic rice are being verified by NFA’s investigation and enforcement department. NFA management has instructed its field offices to further heighten their monitoring activities and seek out people complaining about alleged fake rice in their respective areas.
“We have instructed our field personnel to go directly to the people who claim that they have purchased what they suspect as fake rice and get samples, rather than wait for them to come to our offices to file a complaint or bring samples,” NFA administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino said.
He also warned that NFA shall deal with those who are intentionally causing alarm among consumers by spreading wrong information about plastic or fake rice. “We are warning these people to refrain from causing panic among our consumers because it is a criminal act punishable under our laws,” he said.
A sample of alleged fake rice bought by a consumer from Borongan, Samar is currently being analyzed at the FDC laboratory in Taguig City. NFA enforcement agents have also been sent to another complainant, Rafael Furo Franco of Taguig City, who posted a video of cooked rice molded into a ball and made to bounce on the floor. Sample of the rice shall be taken for laboratory analysis although experiments on other authentic rice samples show that any cooked rice shaped into a ball will actually bounce when thrown on a hard object.
The public is also being encouraged to be vigilant and report to NFA observations about any unusual features in the rice that they buy, in terms of appearance, smell or taste, so that the agency can send enforcement agents to the source of the stocks and samples can be taken for laboratory analysis by the agency’s Food Development Center (FCD).
It may be recalled that two years ago, a report on alleged fake rice in Davao City also caused panic among consumers. Tests on the sample given involved multiple agencies including the NFA-FDC, Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the Department of Health. The results proved that the strange appearance of the reported “fake rice” was only due to a “retrogradation process” involving a series of freezing, thawing, and heating. Retograded rice can be termed as “stale rice” or “panis na kanin.”
The previous rice sample was also found to be contaminated with a plasticizer chemical compound called dibutyl phthalate (DBP) probably due to mishandling or keeping the cooked rice in a container prone to contamination from other stocks in the refrigerator or cabinet, which is an “isolated case.”
“What we had in the past was an isolated case of chemically-contaminated sample which may have been the result of mishandling or pure neglect to safeguard rice from contaminants,” NFA said. (Department of Public Affairs, National Food Authority)