Dept rejects 'plastic inside rice pack' accusation
The Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) has rejected a foreigner's claim that a package of Thai rice produced by a popular brand that she received contained grain mixed with plastic.
The woman wrote on her Facebook page she received two packages of rice as a gift from her sisters. She said after she opened one bag, she saw the rice was mixed with plastic. In a video posted on her Facebook page, grains were put in a wok and stirred for about five minutes, and the grains turned black.
"This was what we got. This is too crazy," she wrote.
Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the DFT, said the grain cited in the post is a Thai rice brand of premium grade. It is the most popular Thai rice brand, which has been marketed in the United States for a long time.
The DFT, rice importers and exporters assumed the woman may not understand how to cook the rice or intended to ruin the reputation of Thai jasmine rice, she said.
Authorities are looking for the woman to forge an understanding. The woman appears to be of Asian descent and lives in New York and California, according to Ms Duangporn.
Asked whether legal action would be taken against her, Ms Duangporn said rice importers are looking for ways to take care of the issue.
The DFT is also checking reports of a consumer in Vancouver, Canada, complaining the rice served at a food court was fake, though the person did not indicate where the grain came from, said Ms Duangporn, adding it is important to find out the source of the rice and boost customer understanding.
Claims that the rice is fake or mixed with plastic cannot be true since plastic would melt when it is heated, she said.
It does not make sense to replace rice, which costs 20 baht a kilogramme, with plastic which costs 40 baht per kilogramme, she said.
Rice for export must be carefully examined against standardised criteria, and people should be confident the exported Thai rice is of good quality, the DFT chief said.
According to Ms Duangporn, 2.3 million tonnes of jasmine rice were exported last year, higher than the average of one million tonnes per year. Of this, 476,000 tonnes were shipped to the US.
As for overall rice, 9.6 million tonnes, worth 150 billion baht, was exported last year, while 9.5 million tonnes are projected to be exported this year.
A video clip by Thai Rice Exporters Association shows the difference between rice (on the left) and plastic when being heated.