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Fake rice: What every mum should know

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Fake rice: What every mum should know

News about fake rice has been circulating again on social media sites and this is quite alarming. Some have said it is no longer news, meaning we should fold our hands and watch? What is most terrifying about this is that we all at one time or the other could have eaten the fake rice, if not in our homes, could have been in an eatery or at a party!

Sometime last year, I opened a new bag of rice and boiled some for my family to eat. The following day my son fell ill and then me. I never suspected anything was wrong with the rice until I brought the remaining portion out of the refrigerator to find it had become soggy and had a foul smell – in less than 24 hours? I found that rather strange. Normally boiled rice would remain hard 24 hours after cooking even if kept outside the refrigerator.

A few months ago a friend told me about some nicely packaged de-stoned local rice and that she and her family had stopped eating foreign rice after she heard that some foreign rice were being mixed with some substances and shipped to Nigeria.

The fake grains are reportedly made of mixed potatoes and industrial synthetic resin and cut to the shape of normal rice grain. The fake rice is then mixed with real rice and are bagged and sold to unsuspecting consumers. Health experts are warning that these plastic grains can cause harm to the digestive system as it remains hard and the body is unable to digest it. A Chinese Restaurant Association official said that eating three bowls of this fake rice is equal to consuming one plastic bag.

What is really worrisome is that it is difficult to detect the plastic rice when it is mixed with normal rice particularly at the point of purchase, so the probability of buying the fake rice is quite high. While you may want to look out for colour and general appearance of the rice before you buy keep in mind that some kind of bleaching is usually done to enhance the appearance of most foreign rice (likely calcium carbonate, present in most beverages, this is not quite dangerous actually). This makes the rice will look whiter and may have a more transparent look however real rice sometimes contains sand, little gravel and riceshell.

But if you have bought your rice already and you want to know if what you have been eating is real or fake, here are a few tricks being circulated on social media which I believe can be quite helpful and you can easily do at home:
Water test: Take a glass of water, pour in a table spoon of raw rice and stir. Real rice will settle at the bottom while fake rice will float.

Fire test: We all know plastic has a unique smell when burned. Take a handful of rice and burn it using match stick or lighter. The characteristic smell of plastic will emanate if the rice is fake and made with plastic.

Boiling test: Closely observe the rice while boiling on fire, if it contains plastic it will form a thick layer at the top
Mould test: After boiling the rice, put some of it in a container and leave for 2 -3 days. If mould does not appear in a few days, the rice is fake and shod not be consumed. Real rice should produce mould.
Hot oil test: take some rice and drop into some very hot oil, if it contains plastic it will melt and stick together at the bottom of the pot.
According to a publication online, soup cooked with plastic rice will form a plastic film over the top, which burns when heated.

Plastic rice will not absorb water when soaked in water as plastic is resistant to water. Real rice is made of starch and it soaks water when it is dipped into water.
Iodine could also be used to identify real rice from the fake made from plastic. Real rice when boiled, smashed and mix with some drops of Iodine would show violet color while fake rice would not show the result.

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