Plastic rice alert

Agencies scurry to trace source of ‘fake rice’ in R-11
TWO GOVERNMENT agencies are now working together to trace the source of the synthetic rice reportedly purchased from a retailer by a family in Bansalan, Davao del Sur.

City Agriculturist Rocelio Tabay said they sent samples to the National Food Authority which in turn will submit the specimen to its main office in Manila for laboratory tests.

According to a TV Patrol (ABS CBN Southern Mindanao) report, a family from Bansalan, Davao del Sur complained about the rice which, when cooked, achieves the same consistency as a styrofoam. The rice is also extremely flammable.

The grains were reportedly obtained from a retailer in Bansalan.

Virgilio Alerta, provincial manager of the NFA in Davao City, said they went to the retailer of the alleged fake rice in Bansalan but the owner denied selling the product.

“Now we are going to work with different agencies to determine where this rice was sourced, and how it entered [the region],” said Alerta.

Alerta also confirmed receiving samples of the said fake rice from the City Agriculturist Office and while he could not say exactly if it contains ‘plastic’ components, the first impression was it wasn’t anything like cooked rice.

“We need the laboratory results to find out what is the component of this alleged fake rice,” said Alerta.

City police director, Sr. Supt. Vicente Danao Jr. yesterday said they will coordinate with the NFA and other agencies to comb through all the warehouses in the region to make sure nobody else is selling the fake rice.

Addressing the wholesalers, he said in the “Pulong-pulong in Pulong” forum, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” said Danao.

At city council meanwhile, agriculture committee chair, Councilor Marissa Salvador-Abella, said they will calendar a public hearing soon to come up with the necessary legislation against the fake rice.

Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte said her health committee is also interested in the case because of health implications.

On Sunday’s episode of “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa,” Duterte said the police can’t just go around inspecting warehouses and piers without proper mandate and information.

However, he added that he would authorize the establishment of checkpoints if there is evidence there could be possible fake rice in shipments being transported within the city.

Duterte said the Department of Agriculture and the National Food Authority would be the right agencies to monitor if there was any stock of fake rice in the city.

“I encourage the police to know more,” he said.

The mayor warned traders to avoid the practice, adding he would feed the fake rice to rice traders caught selling the items.

“Fake rice is plastic, it can kill a human being,” he said. “If I hear an importer of fake rice, don’t do it. I will force you to eat it. Do not do it because it is harmful to humans, period.”