Nigeria caused quite the stir last month after seizing over 100 bags of “plastic rice” that had allegedly been shipped over from China. However, conspiracy theorists will be disappointed to learn that tests have concluded that the rice is not fake, but only contaminated. Yay?
Following tests, Nigeria’s National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said that the rice was “not plastic but… contaminated with micro-organisms above the permissible limit” so still not fit for human consumption, according to Nigeria Today.
Nigerian authorities also warned of “several metric tonnes of expired and dangerous rice” that were waiting in warehouses in neighboring countries to be smuggled into Nigeria, and announced that customs would be on high-alert for any imported grains.
The West African country has banned rice imports in order to encourage domestic production, causing the price of the staple food to skyrocket before the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Officials have not said where the 102 bags of contaminated rice came from. When they were seized in Lagos, a customs officer said that he suspected they had been smuggled in from China.
“Before now, I thought it was a rumour that the plastic rice is all over the country but with this seizure, I have been totally convinced that such rice exists,” a local customs controller told the Nigerian Observer at the time. “We have done a preliminary analysis of the plastic rice. After boiling, it was sticky and only God knows what would have happened if people consumed it.”
BBC reporter Martin Patience also inspected the rice and said it had “a faint chemical odor.”
Last year, plastic rice allegedly sold on the Chinese market reportedly found its way into various Asian countries, including India, Indonesia and Vietnam. While it appeared similar to actual rice, it was actually made from mixing potatoes, sweet potatoes and synthetic resin. Health experts warned that the fake grains could cause serious damage to the digestive system if consumed.
However, a lengthy article from the rumor-busting website Snopes.com casts doubt on this purported plague of fake rice from China, finding little to no evidence for the vast majority of the claims that have caused panic around the world.
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