Nigerian customs officials have seized more than 100 bags of “plastic rice” that were illegally smuggled into the country. According to Punch, the Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, intercepted 102 bags of plastic rice branded “Beat Tomato Rice” with no manufacturing date. On Tuesday, the head of the unit, Mohammed Haruna, said that a suspect is in custody.
In recent months, Nigeria has had to grapple with an influx of counterfeit rice, which is made of mostly inedible and inorganic material that looks like real rice. With the rise in commodity and food prices, unscrupulous businessmen looking to make a quick buck have started importing the cheaper plastic rice from factories in China.
Haruna warned that tests on the rice showed it to be inedible and possibly harmful when ingested.
“Before now, I thought it was a rumor that the plastic rice is all over the country, but with this seizure, I have been totally convinced that such rice exists.
“We have done the preliminary analysis on the plastic rice. After boiling, it was sticky and only God knows what would have happened if people consumed it.”
Haruna warned others from selling the fake rice leading up to the holiday season.
“I advise those economic saboteurs who see Yuletide season as a peak period for nefarious acts to desist from such illegal business.”
Haruna added that authorities have launched an interagency investigation to determine how much of the counterfeit rice is already in circulation and how best to protect and safeguard the health of Nigerians, while bringing those behind its importation and distribution behind bars.