The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), has rubbished claims that there is a so-called plastic rice on the Ghanaian market as alleged through videos circulating on social media and elsewhere.
Similar reports have surfaced in other countries in the sub-region including Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
Indeed, in 2016, customs officials in Nigeria confiscated 2.5 tonnes of what it called “plastic rice” smuggled into the country by unscrupulous businessmen. Some videos circulating also seem to show these food items being manufactured, whilst some other videos show people performing improvised tests to confirm the plastic nature of the rice The widespread concerns notwithstanding, the Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Delese Darko, said its own rigorous experiments invalidate the claims of plastic rice.
“There is currently no plastic rice on the market. We are monitoring the situation. We are doing it with the international community… As to what is happening on social media, we will continue to monitor, but I cannot say why they are doing it,” she said at a press briefing on Friday.
“Using our nation-wide market surveillance program, we obtained random samples After hearing the rumours and seeing the videos that are circulating on social media. The FDA then went ahead to request members of the public to submit samples of the rumoured plastic rice or provide information as to where it could be found.
We subjected all these samples received for laboratory investigation. Results from the analyses indicated that all the samples were in fact, real authentic rice and not plastic” she explained. The FDA, therefore, asked the general public to continue to consume and ignore rumours of plastic rice in Ghana since ‘’the physical and chemical properties of plastic is such that ordinarily they cannot be reconstituted into edible food because plastic cannot absorb or mix with water.”
She also touted the authority’s post-market surveillance systems, and noted the need for reliance on the general public, and stressed the need for the public to be empowered to report some of these thins to the regulator.
“We have a website and it is good for the public to know this and to visit the website, to know that if there is a product that you see on the market that is suspicious, you report to the regulator.”
The FDA also revealed that, they are working with the international food safety authority network (INFOSAN), whose investigations into the same rumour of fake plastic rice in other countries such as Singapore, Nigeria and Canada, has revealed that all the rice in these countries are authentic and no plastic rice has been found anywhere in the world, with the national agency for food and drug administration in Nigeria, recently denying completely the availability of fake or plastic rice on their market after thorough investigations.
“The rumour of plastic rice is not peculiar to Ghana. The European food safety authority ranks this rumours of artificial plastic rice as the 9th of 13 emerging food risks in the world. This notwithstanding, the rumours of plastic rice have not been confirmed anywhere in the world”, the FDA assured.
A quick glance at the FDA website reveals a list of currently registered and safe food products including rice on the Ghanaian market, among which are Gino Thai Jasmine Rice, Obaatan Pa Long Grain Rice, Ruby long grain Rice, cow boy rice, Jazz rice and so many others. In 2016, the FDA, whilst urging calm over the claims, suggested the possibility of the allegations emanating from some competitors in the rice retail market to undo others.