UPDATE (12/31/2016 7:21 AM EST): China has been routinely caught producing fake plastic rice for years now. Sometimes the rice is also made from potatoes to mimic rice. These fake rice grains look exactly like rice but remain hard after cooking. They’ve been trying to sneak in their fake rice to cut costs for years now and most American consumers are none the wiser. An undercover journalist with the Blue Ocean Network, a popular English channel in China, exposed Wuchang rice in China for being mostly fake. – Snopes
HINCHE, Centre, HT (sentinel.ht) – Authorities in Haiti are just beginning to come to grips with the growing prevalence of plastic rice, said to have been imported from China, first discovered in Haiti in early November 2016. Deputy Abel Descolliens (Mirebalais(1)/PHTK) and the Mayorship of Mirebalais have seized upon the issue only after a family in the town had one of their children, who had consumed the product, fall ill.
The Mirebalais Mayor’s Office, headed by Lochard Laguerre, told a journalist from Radio Tele Zenith FM that an investigation was underway to determine how much and from what source from which the plastic rice was brought into Haiti. The journalist said Deputy Descollines’ office said it would be bringing the matter before members of the Chamber of Deputies to exact a response. Neither elected to speak directly on the matter during a segment on the Train Matinal, weekday mornings news and politics broadcast.
The family which was affected by their daughter consuming the rice said it was purchased from a neighbor. The mother intended to make a blended rice juice with it. A female child had consumed some of the first batch of jis diriz, rice juice, before the family discovered something wrong. They discovered that the rice, by the manner of its consistency when other batches of the juice were cooled in the refrigerator, was not a natural produce.
The provisional administration of President Jocelerme Privert has not addressed the plastic rice detected in the Haitian market. A video was posted nearly 7 weeks before the Mirebalias incident on November 7, 2016. In both instances, consumers were attempting to make jis diriz. It appears by this method of preparation, the plastic properties of the rice become more profound. It leads one to believe consumers commonly cooking the rice could possibly consume it unknowingly.
The alert over plastic rice in Haiti is the first consumer-initiated quality control scare since the 2012 scandal of salami. The imported meat product from the Dominican Republic was found to contain high levels of feces. In 2010, it was from a United Nations peacekeeper base in Mirebalais that the water sources in Haiti would be contaminated with cholera. Deaths from cholera, which had never been detected in Haiti before, topped 10,000 in the first five years.
The BBC reported on December 21, 2016 that Nigerian officials had confiscated 2.5 tons of plastic rice that was smuggled into the country by an unscrupulous businessmen. The Nigerian customs service said the fake rice was intended to be sold in markets during the festive season.
UPDATE (12/31/2016 7:25 AM EST): Last week, Nigerian officials seized over 100 bags of what was claimed to be plastic rice. Lab tests have since shown the product isn’t fake, as Gizmodo and other outlets reported. But it is badly contaminated rice that’s unsafe for human consumption. The incident is casting light on the sorry state of the economy and food production in Nigeria—along with a government that’s anxious to deflect the blame elsewhere. – Gizmodo