Official Report: No Plastic Substance In Rice Samples

Last week, news of “plastic rice” entering Kathmandu’s market caused public confusion and anxiety. Now, like in other countries where the rumours had previously emerged, claims of plastic rice in Kathmandu have also been found to be baseless. The government body responsible for food technology and quality control have confirmed there is no plastic rice.

Rice has long been a staple in Nepal, and the country imported more than Rs.18.52 billion in the 2016/2017 fiscal year, an increase of more than 15.9% compared to the previous fiscal year. A growing preference for  the long-grain basmati variety of rice is believed to be responsible for the increase in import.

Samples of the so-called “plastic rice” were brought to the attention of the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC) about two weeks ago by a middle-aged man who unexpectedly showed up to register a complaint about the rice.

The rumours took a serious turn when, last week, police personnel from Naxal complained about cooking rice mixed with plastic rice grains. Following the complaint, Tanka Prasad Sherchan, a local grocery shopkeeper who used to supply rice to the police was arrested.

Video of ‘Plastic Rice Production’

Meanwhile, many Nepalis have been sharing  a video of a factory supposedly producing white plastic grains. The white product in that video is actually shredded plastic, an industrial waste. Plastic shredding is a standard industrial plastic waste management process, and China is a major importer of the product. In other words, China buys those plastic shreds for industrial use, not to produce them to be sold or exported as fake rice.

Screenshot of a video explaining plastic shredding. The process as well as the end product in this video is the same as the one in the video shared by Nepalis in which it was assumed or implied that plastic rice was being produced.

Official Report:

“The rice samples obtained from both the cases were sent for laboratory testing. The results show there was no plastic in the rice samples that were examined,” Purna Chandra Wasti, spokesperson at the DoFTQC, told Onward Nepal.

The lab test using the parameters set by the Central Food Laboratories, found that collected samples showed the characteristics of rice grain with no other foreign substances added.

“Like edible rice grains, the samples examined had amylose and starch contents. There was no presence of plastic like foreign substance,” added Wasti.

Below, the copy of the official report on the lab test on ‘plastic rice’ conducted by Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC).