China remains the world's largest producer of rice. The huge exporting country harvests over 200 million tons per year and a large share of it gets exported all over the world. But cooks and diners alike should take care: not only are untold amounts of pesticides used in Chinese agriculture, but according to a report in The Korea Times rice is also now being manufactured artificially.
Potato starch gets mixed with toxic plastic, synthetic resin, and then formed into rice-shaped kernels. Finally the grains are steamed with a typical rice aroma. Doctors have emphatically warned against consuming the artificial product: three full portions apparently contain as much plastic as there is in a little plastic bag. That's alarming!
Only recently, the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, published its annual report on emerging risks and identified plastic rice as one of them. In 2011 reports began circulating in media across South East (SE) Asia that artificial (plastic) rice was being produced in China, which was subsequently being sold in towns such as Taiyuan in Shaanxi province.
The issue was raised in 2013 by European Parliament seeking clarification on whether the Commission was aware of the practice, and if so, what safeguards were in place to prohibit artificial rice from entering into the EU. A briefing note was prepared by the UK for discussion by EREN, Emerging Risks Exchange Network.
The European Commission response of 20 September 2013 to the Parliamentary question states that rice products originating in China are subject to Commission Implementing Decision 2011/884/EU, recently amended to Commission Implementing Decision 2013/287/EU, which stipulates consignments of rice originating from China can be released for free circulation only if accompanied by analytical report demonstrating it is GM free and a health certificate issued by the Chinese competent authority (AQSIC) certifying the rice has been produced, sorted, handled, processed, packaged, and transported in line with good hygiene practice.
But is there any solution for consumers to tell the difference between authentic rice and manipulated one? With these simple tricks you can test whether your rice is wholesome and plastic-free:
The Water Test
Pour a tablespoon of uncooked rice into a glass with cold water and stir it vigorously. If the rice all sinks to the bottom of the glass, it's fine. If the grains float up to the surface, be careful!
The Fire Test
Try setting a little bit of your rice on fire with a match or lighter. If it starts burning right away and smells like burning plastic, then you know what to do! (Do not eat it!)
The Mortar and Pestle Test
When you crush a few grains of rice with a mortar and pestle they should be reduced to a fine, white, starchy powder. But with artificial rice, you will see a light yellow discoloration instead.
The Mold Test
If you want to know for sure whether your cooked rice is quite safe, put a small quantity into an airtight container and leave it in a warm place. Within a couple of days it will have gotten moldy. Only fake rice stays mold-free./AgroWeb.org