The fake grains can hardly be distinguished from natural rice when raw. The only way to identify plastic rice by cooking it - it remains very difficult and hard to digest. One publication explained soup cooked rice with plastic forms a plastic film on top, which burns when heated.
Health experts are warning people that the grain, if detected, can wreak havoc on the digestive system. According to an official from the Chinese Restaurant Association, eating three bowls of rice is equivalent plastic consuming one plastic bag!
News of fake rice is circulating on social media platforms such as Facebook and mobile messaging app WhatsApp for a few years now. Reports suggest that the rice was initially sold in the Chinese market, mainly in Taiyuan in Shanxi province. Now, people are afraid that it found its way to other countries in Asia. The rice was reportedly sold only in small shops, large supermarkets do not, which makes it more difficult to detect.
Hasan Malek, Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumerism Malaysia, said that people should not panic over the news until it was officially confirmed. "The news may be true or not, we do not know," he told Star Online. "We also do not know whether the fake rice has entered the country, but we can not take things lightly and carry out investigations throughout the country."
Hasan said that an investigative team will focus on testing rice samples in small shops. "We are conducting our investigation, but I would urge buyers to come forward and report to the ministry if they come across such rice. All reports produced will be treated confidentially." He added that the plastic rice would be difficult to detect if mixed with normal rice.
Singapore Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) also reacted to the news. "As part of routine surveillance Ava, the imported rice are regularly inspected and sampled to ensure compliance with our standards and requirements on food safety," a spokesman told The Straits Times. "We have not received any feedback on the fake rice."
The fake rice scandal is one of many food safety issues that the Chinese authorities had to deal with. In 2010, a company Shaanxi is involved in adding spice to ordinary rice and passing it off as the more expensive "Wuchang rice. And in 2008, infant milk formula is mixed with a plastic compound called melamine. Six babies died during this time, while 300,000 others suffered from serious kidney problems.
We covered some fake Chinese food on Oddity Central as well. Four years ago we posted about in regards to a strong "beef extract" additive used in restaurants to open in cow breeding, and in 2013 had a concrete-filled walnuts.