Plastic Rice Seized in Nigeria - Carlos Gamino, MilwaukeeBy Carlos Gamino

Seedy businessmen are accused of smuggling 2.5 tons of plastic rice into Nigeria and trying to sell it as food, according to BBC.

Rice is a major staple in Nigerian diets, and during the holiday season, sales explode.

The fake rice has been sent to a lab so officials can determine what it’s really made from, but customs officials say it’s plastic—and that people should avoid eating it, because, according to Haruna Mamudu, customs chief, “Only God knows what would’ve happened” if people did eat it.

Something similar happened in China recently, too. A video leaked to the Daily Mail shows workers in a Chinese rice factory making a toxic concoction out of sheets of plastic, but experts say it would be more expensive to make plastic rice than it would be to grow, harvest, and sell the real deal.

Other fake food scandals include honey that’s been diluted with beetroot syrup and rice syrup, which some people claim makes up at least 70 percent of what’s on the market coming from China.

Back to the rice, though: the plastic rice seized in Nigeria looked like real rice, and it was only after officials attempted to cook some that they discovered it was strangely sticky.

“Whoever made this fake rice did an exceptionally good job — on first impression it would have fooled me. When I ran the grains through my fingers, nothing felt out of the ordinary. But when I smelt a handful of the ‘rice’ there was a faint chemical odor. Customs officials say when they cooked up the rice it was too sticky — and it was then abundantly clear this was no ordinary batch,” says journalist Peter Okwoche.

What Do You Think?

Have you heard tales of fake food being passed off as real food? What would you do if you found that you’d inadvertently purchased some, and do you think the problem is confined to less developed countries? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter!

Carlos Gamino