Reports have surfaced of ‘fake plastic rice’ that have made its way to consumers. The claims are that the rice looks real and is designed to fool consumers into thinking that they are purchasing the genuine product.
How is the fake rice made?
They take potato starch and mix it with plastic (for example synthetic resin) and then form them into rice-shaped kernels. Finally the grains are steamed with a typical rice aroma.
While these reports which have been circulated are still being investigated, it really made me wonder why would anyone purposefully introduce harmful products which will alienate their customer base?
Everyone wants to make a profit and mixing ‘plastic’ with the genuine product makes a bigger profit margin. Of course, what people in this position fail to recognize is that consumers will start refusing to buy your product and sales could suffer as a result of the controversy.
In fact while at a local supermarket, I noticed that more consumers were examining the bag of rice before they purchased it. Eventually rice sales might be affected if consumers don’t feel safe buying the product.
Since rice is a staple of most Jamaican dishes it makes you wonder how anyone could have thought it was a good idea to tamper with such a popular product!
How to spot the fake!
It is hard to detect plastic rice in its raw state as when it is mixed with genuine rice as they seem to be the same. However, there are things to look out for if you have suspicions about the rice. Just take one glass of water and drop some rice in the glass.
After giving it a slight stir notice the buoyancy of the rice as the fake rice will float to the top. Another way to test the rice is by cooking it. Observe the rice during the boiling time if it is a plastic then it will become start forming a thick layer at the top of the pan. It will also become extremely sticky.
You can also crush a few grains of rice with a mortar and pestle they should be reduced to a fine, white, starchy powder. If you have artificial rice, you will instead see a light yellow discoloration.
It goes without saying that fake rice is very harmful to consumers. If you feel you have bought fake rice it is important to keep the packaging and receipt so that the authorities can trace the product.
So sad that we now have manufacturers who careless exploit their customers and are willing to put their customers’ health at risk just to save a few dollars.
So what’s your take? Let me hear from you!
Teri Ann Renee Paisley
Gleaner online writer