Plastic Rice Being Sold in China, Nigeria, Jamaica-Unproven!
Summary of eRumor:
Warnings have gone viral about Chinese companies selling plastic rice, with some versions tied to a particular company called Wuchang Rice.
Rumors about plastic rice or fake rice being sold in Chinese markets have been circulating since 2011 — but we couldn’t find any credible sources or confirmed instances to back those claims up.
And there haven’t been any accounts of plastic rice being sold in the U.S.
All of these plastic rice rumors seem to lead back to a 2011 report by the Korean-language newspaper Hong Kong Weekly that cited unnamed sources in reporting that eating one bowl of plastic rice was equivalent to eating an entire vinyl bag (an allegation that has been repeated countless times):
…Some distributors are selling fake rice in Taiyuan, Shaanxi Province, and this rice is a mixture of potatoes, sweet potatoes and plastic.
“This ‘plastic rice’ is made by forming potatoes and sweet potatoes into rice-like shape, then adding industrial synthetic resins,” said a food expert. “Since the rice is different from normal rice, it is hard like stone even when cooked. Moreover, the synthetic resin in it is very harmful to the human body.”
One Chinese restaurant association official warns that eating three bowls of ‘plastic rice’ is the same as eating one vinyl bag. He added that since the rice is very dangerous there would be strict investigation on the rice factory.
In the mean time, merchants say that as the fake rice can leave huge profits, it is still sold in mass quantity.
This is not the first time for fake rice e sold in China. A Chinese television report has alleged that a company in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, has been producing a fake version of high-quality “Wuchang rice” by adding flavoring to ordinary rice.
It’s entirely possible that vendors in Chinese markets were selling so-called plastic rice, but the report relies on unnamed sources and we couldn’t find any official confirmation one way or the other.
Still, the report was picked up by American alternative and natural health websites like Natural News, which reported in February 2011 that “Chinese Companies (are) Mass Producing Fake Rice Out of Plastic,” citing the Weekly Hong Kong report.
By late 2015, warnings about China selling plastic rice were still bouncing around American alternative health websites. These stories were citing a broadcast from the Blue Ocean Network (BON) that relied on the original 2011 Weekly Hong Kong plastic rice story as its source.
It’s been implied in these new versions that Chinas has begun exporting plastic rice to other countries — but, again, there are no confirmed reports of that happening. Some have pointed to a YouTube clip that incorrectly identifies waste plastic being shredded into beads as the manufacturing of plastic rice.
A story that appeared at AltHealth Works website in 2015 under the headline “Chinese Companies Are Mass Producing Plastic Rice (and it Could Cause Series Health Problems)” has been shared on social media more than 135,000 times. Again, there’s no official indication that the claim is true. We did find one report that the New Dehli High Court heard a case on plastic rice in 2015 — but the court apparently rejected an application to test Chinese rice imports.
In 2016, the plastic rice story took new life in Africa and Jamaica. Reports from Nigeria claimed that marketplace vendors were selling plastic rice — but, again, we couldn’t find any official confirmation of that.
Reports about plastic rice in Jamaica was being imported from Guyana and Suriname were debunked by the Jamaica Customs Agency in December 2016, Caribbean 360 reports:
On Monday, the JCA stopped the shipments and met with the relevant regulatory agencies, including the Bureau of Standards (BSJ), the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), to verify whether the artificial rice was in fact in the country.
The concern was triggered by a Television Jamaica report on Sunday, showing a woman cooking the product.
However, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda said yesterday there was no evidence of plastic rice in samples tested by the BSJ.
“The BSJ was provided with samples… and, so far, I can assure the people of Jamaica that there is absolutely no evidence of any contamination of plastic within the samples tested,” he said.
The minister said more samples will be taken from across the country to be tested and the BSJ had been asked to conduct island wide investigations into the source of all rice now in supermarkets.
According to the Jamaica Observer, Jamaica imports rice from Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam, India, United States, Guyana, Thailand, China, and Suriname.
Samuda said yesterday that rice originating from Guyana and Suriname would be cleared to enter the island.
Ultimately, none of these reports of plastic rice can be definitively confirmed or debunked. There has never been an official report of plastic rice being found, but that doesn’t mean marketplace sellers in China or Nigeria haven’t sold an imitation or synthetic form of rice to make money. This one is unproven.