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Plastic rice fear spreads in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana: But why would anyone produce it?

Plastic rice reports is causing fear in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. People across these two states were panic stricken after reports of 'plastic rice' being sold at some grocery stores emerged.

BT Online        Last Updated: June 8, 2017  | 14:48 IST
Plastic Rice fear spreads in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana: But why would anyone produce it?

Plastic rice reports are causing fear in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. People across these two states were panic stricken after reports emerged of 'plastic rice' being sold.

Two days after a customer allegedly found plastic rice being used at a food stall in Saroornagar in Hyderabad, another customer from Meerpet, made a similar complain to the police.

The news in no time went viral on social media. But what's the truth?

What is plastic rice?

Quite literally, it would be rice made of plastic. At this point, while rumours do round, there is no definite proof if such a product is being illegally made. However, there have been unproven reports in the past that plastic rice were made in China and also exported to Western countries. In fact, some reports even said that the Chinese food producers were making plastic rice with a mixture of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and plastic. All these were rumours. There was no proof.

Why would anyone produce plastic rice?  

Yes, it makes no sense. India is one of the largest producers of rice in the world. It also heavily exports rice to other countries. If plastic rice really existed, it would require manufacturing units. Since there is no point producing rice in small quantities, it would mean setting up manufacturing cells which would cost substantial investment. Plus, this would be an illegal operation. All this would possibly mean plastic rice would be more expensive than actual rice and fraught with risks. But having said that, stranger things have happened. There have been unconfirmed reports in the past of eggs being made of plastic and milk being made of detergent powder.
 
Is plastic rice fear unfounded?

It could be, but we need to wait till food authorities offer more clarity. The authorities, according to media reports, are looking into the complaints. At this point, they too seem to be a little dumbstruck by the rumours on the social media. "We also came to know about plastic or fake rice through media and social networking sites. We have not received any instructions from our higher-ups so far on this issue, but locally I am sending four food inspectors to check rice with the main rice traders in Visakhapatnam," one of the officials told the Times of India.  Meanwhile, Telangana Civil Supplies officials have reportedly collected samples and are awaiting lab reports. Rumours, such as plastic rice, are likely to spread fast on social media. This could just be the case.

How to check if your rice is made of plastic?

Even though there is no definite proof of the existence of plastic rice, there are tips going viral on social media of how to identify plastic rice. They include a water test, oil test and boiling test. Here's what these tips say:

Oil test: Take a tablespoon of raw rice and heat it into oil. If the rice grains melt and stick together at the bottom of the vessel, then the situation is alarming.

Boiling test: While boiling the rice, if it contains plastic it will start forming a thick layer at the top of the vessel.

Water Test: As rice does not float in water, you can identify the plastic one easily. Take a glass of water and drop a tablespoon of raw rice inside and stir it for some time. If the rice float then it is not suitable for eating.

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