Mouldy rice rumours: True or not? | Bangkok Post: learning

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Mouldy rice rumours: True or not?

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How safe is our rice? Millers & foul smelling rice hint at food safety problem but govt says rumours are not true & politically motivated. 

Pledged rice at a Chachoengsao warehouse decomposed, emitting a mouldy smell.

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AGRICULTURE

State fumes over rice fumigation

Takes starch out of mouldy rumours
18/06/2013
Post Reporters

Sacks of rice stored at a warehouse in Chachoengsao under government’s rice pledging scheme are covered with flour beetles. Villagers living near the warehouse have complained about a foul smell coming from the warehouse, particularly after rainfall.

The question "how safe is our rice?" has been raised again after rumours spread through social media that the government may have sold overfumigated rice stocks to leading hypermarket operators to be repacked for distribution under their house brands.

The rumours have gone viral on Facebook, as well as LINE, with posts warning consumers not to buy house-brand rice packs from hypermarkets.

The posts claim overfumigated rice is hazardous to health and poses a cancer risk.

A miller based in Sara Buri who asked not to be named said fumigation is a common practice to kill insects for both domestic consumption and exports.

But for state rice stocks which have been kept for a long time, fumigation is repeated several times a year, he said.

In normal practice, millers will fumigate two times a year at most as their grain circulated in accordance with the annual harvests.

The chemical used to fumigate rice is phosphine, a substance promoted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to replace methyl bromide, a more hazardous chemical.

"We don't exactly know how many times a year the government's rice stocks are fumigated, but we think the frequency is high because the rice is relatively old and contains high moisture," he said. 

We also believe overfumigated rice pose certain risks to consumers. Therefore, consumers have to be smart and choose new rice. They should avoid old rice which is normally muddy in colour and contains flakes or dust, and smells mouldy.

However, authorities and rice traders have brushed aside such rumours, alleging they are politically motivated and aimed at discrediting the government.

"We don't know where the rumours came from and there have never been reports that people die from eating the government's rice stocks," replied Pranee Siriphand, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department.

People should not panick just because of the rumours, and overfumigation is not possible, as frequent fumigation will add expenses to surveyors (which function on behalf of the government

According to Ms Pranee, the rumours which have spread for a few days could be aimed at making it harder for the government to clear its existing rice stocks.

"Phosphine is supposed to a safe substance, as normally its residue will gradually be lower or vaporise after 5-7 days of fumigation," she said. 

Rumours that rats fall dead after eating overfumigated rice are also not true. The rats may die because they run into the silos during fumigation. 

Somkiat Makkcayathorn, president of the Thai Rice Packers Association, has also played down the rumours, saying phosphine is a food-grade substance used to fumigate weevil without chemical residue.

Mr Somkiat also insisted that there is no addition of anti-fungus chemicals to the packed rice. This is because packed rice is polished and cleaned before packing and has low moisture of around 12-14% moisture.

The Thai Retailers Association also released a statement yesterday, affirming that all member stores have carefully chosen their rice packers.

The selection process is up to international standards, ranging from factory inspection, storing and rice packaging process to product quality and safety inspection, it said.

The operations and labelling of these packers are also in line with state regulations.

The association also called on consumers to apply discretion in spreading groundless information. Doing so will not only cause panic among the public but also affect credibility of the country's overall produce.

Kudatara Nagaviroj, corporate affairs director of Big C Supercenter Plc, the operator of Big C hypermarkets, said the chain had carefully selected its five packed-rice suppliers for its house brands and they comply strictly with international standards.

"We inspect and audit our rice suppliers on stocking procedures, packing processes and food safety compliance frequently," said Mr Kudatara.

(Source: Bangkok Post, State fumes over rice fumigation, Takes starch out of mouldy rumours, 18/06/2013, Post Reporters, link


Mouldy Rice Rumour Vocabulary

rumours - informal news; news passed around that may or may not be true, hearsay, gossip, things heard through the grapevine ข่าวลือ
mouldy rice rumours

spread - to gradually cover a larger area and affect a larger number of people   แพร่หลาย, แพร่กระจาย แพร่กระจายไปทั่ว แพร่กระจาย

spread rumours over the internet
rumours spread over the internet

social media - internet websites such as Facebook and Twitter where people share photos and messages
rumours spread through social media

play down - to say that something is not important
play down rumours - to say that rumours are not important

fumes
- smoke ; fumes ; vapour ควัน ควันพิษ

fumigate (verb) - to treat a place with fumes from chemicals to kill bacteria or insects such as moquitoes อบควัน, รมควัน
fumigation (noun) - การรมควัน, รมควันฆ่าเชื้อโรค

overfumigation -
too much fumigation
rice fumigation

state
state fumes over rice fumigation

mould (noun) - รา,  เชื้อรา
mouldy (adjective) - ซึ่งปกคลุมด้วยรา
mouldy smell  
mouldy rumours

decomposed -  rotten ; decayed ; spoiled ; tainted ; bad เน่า
decomposed rice
decomposed pledged rice

emit - to send something out
emitting a mouldy smell

take starch out of -
to weaken, to make weak, to make lose all power
Takes starch out of mouldy
rumours

pack
(noun) - a plastic bag or package (that product such as rice put into to sell in stores)
rice packs

pack (verb) - put in a package or plastic bag (so it can be sold in a store)
repack -
pack again (a second time, put in small bags, for example)

packed rice - rice put in a plastic bag (for sale in a store)
rice packers - companies that put rice in bags for sale in stores

stocks - large amounts stored for future use
rice stocks

media - radio, television, newspaper, the Internet, considered as a group สื่อ
the government may have sold overfumigated rice stocks

brands - a type of product made by a particular company ตรา, ยี่ห้อ products with well-established names that people remember, that create a certain image and expectations about the product

house
brand - the brand of a chain store (example: Tesco Lotus brand)
house-brand rice packs

operators - businesses doing this business
hypermarkets - very large stores like Tesco Lotus and Carrefour
leading hypermarket operators

leading hypermarket operators to be repacked for distribution under their house brands

raise question
raise question again

The question "how safe is our rice?" has been raised again after rumours spread through social media that the government may have sold overfumigated rice stocks to leading hypermarket operators to be repacked for distribution under their house brands.

distribution - giving or delivering things to many people การจำหน่ายออกไป
repacked for distribution
repacked for distribution under their house brands

warehouse - a large building for storing things โกดังสินค้า, คลังสินค้า, โรงพัสดุ
Pledged rice at a Chachoengsao warehouse decomposed, emitting a mouldy smell.

go viral
- when something becomes very popular and liked by many people on the internet and shared a lot
go viral on Facebook

rumours gone viral
the rumours have gone viral on Facebook

buy house-brand rice packs from hypermarkets

consumers - people who buy things or services (individuals and families)

posts - when people put something online so people can see or read it (put on facebook page, tweet, etc)
posts warning consumers not to buy house-brand rice packs from hypermarkets

The rumours have gone viral on Facebook, as well as LINE, with posts warning consumers not to buy house-brand rice packs from hypermarkets.

risk - danger, how likely or possible it is for a bad event that causes harm and damage ความเสี่ยง
poses a cancer risk

hazardous - dangerous, especially to people's health or safety; can cause harm
hazardous to health and poses a cancer risk

claim - saying something is true without proving it yet
The posts claim overfumigated rice is hazardous to health and poses a cancer risk

A miller based in Sara Buri who asked not to be named said fumigation is a common practice to kill insects for both domestic consumption and exports.

practice - a way of doing something; something that people do regularly การปฏิบัติ
normal practice

In normal practice, millers will fumigate two times a year at most....

common - seen or experienced often, done frequently
common practice

fumigation is a common practice to kill insects

domestic - within the country ภายในประเทศ
consumption - using, eating or drinking something การบริโภค
domestic consumption
rice for both domestic consumption and exports.

state - government รัฐ
state rice stocks
state rice stocks kept for a long time

But for state rice stocks which have been kept for a long time, fumigation is repeated several times a year, he said.

grain - 1. a crop like rice or wheat; 2. the seed from cereal crops such as rice, wheat, or corn เมล็ดพืช
circulated - going around (go from place to place before it is sold and eaten)
in accordance

their grain circulated in accordance with the annual harvests

annual - happening once a year ประจำปี
annual harvests

In normal practice, millers will fumigate two times a year at most as their grain circulated in accordance with the annual harvests.

The chemical used to fumigate rice is phosphine, a substance promoted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to replace methyl bromide, a more hazardous chemical.

replace - to get rid of something, and put something new in its place เลิกให้และนำสิ่งใหม่มาใช้แทน หาคนมาแทน
phosphine promoted by FAO to replace methyl bromide

frequency - the number of times something happens within a particular period ความบ่อย
high frequency

"We don't exactly know how many times a year the government's rice stocks are fumigated, but we think the frequency is high because the rice is relatively old and contains high moisture," he said. 

pose - to create a dangerous of difficult situation; caus a problem or difficulty เป็นเหตุให้
overfumigated rice pose certain risks to consumers

We also believe overfumigated rice pose certain risks to consumers. Therefore, consumers have to be smart and choose new rice. They should avoid old rice which is normally muddy in colour and contains flakes or dust, and smells mouldy.

authorities - government officials and police ผู้มีอำนาจ เจ้าหน้าที่ เจ้าหน้าที่ของรัฐ

traders - people who buy and sell things
rice traders

brushed aside
brushed aside such rumours

motivated - done for a particular reason มีแรงจูงใจ ถูกโน้มน้าวใจ
politically motivated

discredit
discrediting the government

However, authorities and rice traders have brushed aside such rumours, alleging they are politically motivated and aimed at discrediting the government.

panic -

people should not panic

frequent - happening often เกิดขึ้นบ่อย
frequent fumigation will add expenses to surveyors

function - to work or operate  เป็นปกติ ใช้การได้ปกติ
on behalf of - for
function on behalf of - work for

surveyors (which function on behalf of the government)

People should not panick just because of the rumours, and overfumigation is not possible, as frequent fumigation will add expenses to surveyors (which function on behalf of the government.

clear -
get rid of
clear stocks -
get rid of the things you are storing (by selling, for example)
clear rice stocks
making it harder for the government to clear its existing rice stocks.

According to Ms Pranee, the rumours which have spread for a few days could be aimed at making it harder for the government to clear its existing rice stocks.

residue - a small amount that remains after most has disappeared
chemical residue

vaporise - turn into vapour or fumes (go from solid to gas)

"Phosphine is supposed to a safe substance, as normally its residue will gradually be lower or vaporise after 5-7 days of fumigation."  

silos - tall structures for storing large amounts of agricultural products (rice, grain) (See Wikipedia)

Rumours that rats fall dead after eating overfumigated rice are also not true. The rats may die because they run into the silos during fumigation. 

food-grade substance - something that is not harmful and could be eaten as food
phosphine is a food-grade substance

phosphine is used to fumigate weevil without chemical residue.

Somkiat Makkcayathorn, president of the Thai Rice Packers Association, has also played down the rumours, saying phosphine is a food-grade substance used to fumigate weevil without chemical residue.

insisted - say firmly that something must happen or is true, and will not change mind
addition of anti-fungus chemicals to the packed rice

polished -
packed rice
is polished and cleaned before packing

Mr Somkiat also insisted that there is no addition of anti-fungus chemicals to the packed rice. This is because packed rice is polished and clean before packing and has low moisture of around 12-14% moisture.

release
- make available to the public 
release a statement

affirming
- saying that something is true, again
affirming
that all member stores have carefully chosen their rice packers.

The Thai Retailers Association also released a statement yesterday, affirming that all member stores have carefully chosen their rice packers.

process - a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
selection process

international - ระหว่างประเทศ between countries
standards - an acceptable level of quality or achievement มาตรฐาน a rule for behaving which should be obeyed บรรทัดฐาน, กฎเกณฑ์, กรอบ
international standards
the selection process is up to international standards

inspection - an official process of checking that things are in the correct condition or that people are doing what they should การตรวจสอบตรวจตรา  การตรวจสอบอย่างละเอียด

factory inspection
product quality inspection
safety inspection

packaging
- the container or covering for a product while it is waiting to be sold in stores
rice packaging process

ranging from X to Y - including different things including X to Y

ranging from factory inspection, storing and rice packaging process to product quality and safety inspection, it said

The selection process is up to international standards, ranging from factory inspection, storing and rice packaging process to product quality and safety inspection, it said

regulations - official rules that control the way that things are done ระเบียบปฏิบัติ ระเบียบ ข้อบังคับ กฎระเบียบ
state regulations

label (noun) - a piece of paper on a product to identify it and give info; sticker ป้าย, ฉลาก, สลาก
label (verb) - put a label on a product

in line with - following, agreeing with, meeting
in line with state regulations

The operations and labelling of these packers are also in line with state regulations.

groundless - false, not true, has no basis in fact
groundless information
spreading groundless information

apply - to make use of something นำมาใช้
discretion - being careful in what you do
apply discretion - being careful

call on - ask people to do something
called on consumers to apply discretion in spreading groundless information.

panic
- a sudden strong feeling of fear, which makes you act without thinking carefully ความหวาดวิตก
cause panic among the public

credibility - believeability (whether people believe something or not) ความน่าเชื่อถือ, ความน่าไว้วางใจ
affect the credibility of the country's overall produce.

The association also called on consumers to apply discretion in spreading groundless information. Doing so will not only cause panic among the public but also affect creditability of the country's overall produce.

affairs
- events and activities relating to the government, politics, economy etc of a country, region, or the world ความสัมพันธ์ระหว่างประเทศ
corporate affairs
corporate affairs director of Big C

chain - a group of businesses (restaurants, hotels, etc.) owned by the same company บริษัทต่างๆที่อยู่ในเครือเดียวกัน
the chain selected five packed-rice suppliers for its house brands

comply - to obey a rule or a law การปฏิบัติตามกฎ
strictly - completely อย่างเข้มงวด
comply strictly with

international standards

the rice suppliers comply strictly with international standards.

Kudatara Nagaviroj, corporate affairs director of Big C Supercenter Plc, the operator of Big C hypermarkets, said the chain had carefully selected its five packed-rice suppliers for its house brands and they comply strictly with international standards.

inspect - to look at something carefully ตรวจสอบ
audit - the process of checking a company or organisation's accounting system for irregularities (See Wikipedia)
we inspect and audit our rice suppliers

stocking procedures

packing processes

compliance - following a rule or law
food safety compliance

We inspect and audit our rice suppliers on stocking procedures, packing processes and food safety compliance frequently.

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