Plasticizer found in 'fake' rice samples


Posted at Jul 03 2015 06:23 PM | Updated as of Jul 04 2015 02:23 AM

MANILA - The Food Development Center (FDC) of the National Food Authority (NFA) on Friday released the initial results of the laboratory tests performed on alleged synthetic rice samples.

Laboratory tests showed that the rice sample from Davao City contained dibutyl phtalate, a chemical used as plasticizer. It is commonly used in making flexible plastic products.

FDC also showed the difference between real rice grains and the samples taken from Davao City.

Real rice grains, when cooked, are sticky when pinched, while the "fake" rice crumbles like chalk. The "fake" rice also have starch, which can also be found in rice, potato and corn, among others.

Although FDC has yet to perform additional tests on the "fake" rice sample, Dir. Jocelyn Sales said it is possible that the "fake" rice was made from a mixture of starch and dibutyl phtalate.

A chemical was used to bind the starch powder, then the plasticizer was added to make it soft.

According to Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, although the chemical found in the alleged fake rice is not poisonous, it can cause harm if ingested daily for at least three months. This is because dibutyl phtalate is a non-food grade substance.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, on its website, said there is no available information on the reproductive, developmental and carcinogenic effects of dibutyl phtalate on humans. However, studies have reported that the chemical has developmental and reproductive effects on animals when ingested.

NFA has also issued some tips on how to know whether the rice you are buying is genuine or fake.

In buying rice, one should take note of the color and quality of the grains. Rice grains usually differ in sizes, and are not shiny or too white. If the rice grains are uniform in size, are too white and are shiny, chances are these grains were machine-made.

Buyers are also advised to smell the grains before buying. Rice grains should not smell like plastic.

One should also check whether there is a layer of plastic on top of the cooked rice.

Consumers are encouraged to report any information regarding "fake rice" to NFA's Bantay Bigas hotline: 0906-436-3133. -- with a report from Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News