GHANA – The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has asked the public to disregard videos circulating on social media, the content of which is alleged to be plastic rice, on the Ghanaian market.

The Authority in a statement noted that the content of videos circulated on social media are false.

FDA explained that “in 2017, the FDA based on these videos, investigated the claims and issued a press statement denying the existence of plastic rice.

As part of that investigation, and through nationwide market surveillance activities, the Authority obtained random samples, and subsequently requested members of the public to assist investigations by either submitting samples of the alleged plastic rice or giving information about where they could be found.

They added that “the samples received were subjected to laboratory analyses.” However, the “results from the analyses showed that all the samples were, in fact, authentic rice and not plastic as perceived by the public.”

“It is important to note that, the physical and chemical properties of plastics are such that they cannot be cooked into edible food. This is because plastic cannot absorb water and does not mix with water,” portions of the statement read.

These ‘plastic/rubber rice’ are usually alleged to be manufactured in Vietnam and/or China.

FDA clarified that the texture of each variety of rice depends on the nature of the starch content. Starch is mainly made up of amylose and amylopectin. The ratio of amylose to amylopectin determines the texture of rice.

Amylopectin is responsible for the sticky nature of rice. This trait of the starch in rice makes cooked rice grains stick together and allows it to be formed into a ball that can bounce off hard surfaces as depicted in some of the videos on social media.

“Amylose is responsible for the gummy nature of rice and therefore adds to the bouncy property of the rice when made into balls,” FDA said.

The regulator therefore cautioned the public that the videos on the purported plastic rice are fake and as such they should ignore them.

The FDA assured the public that it “will continue to monitor the quality and safety of the varieties of rice on the market, both local and imported, to safeguard public health and safety.”

Modern Ghana reports that in December 2016, a similar incident was reported in Nigeria where 2.5 tonnes of plastic rice from China had been seized.

However, few weeks afterwards, a spokesperson of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health stated that, after preliminary tests performed, the seized material contained all the characteristics of rice; there was no evidence that plastic rice was circulating in the country.

It was later announced by Yetunde Oni, The Acting Director General of NAFDAC, that the rice was instead contaminated with bacteria.

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