By Gifty Arthur
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Mrs. Delese Mimi Darko, has said it would be impossible for Ghana to stop the importation of fake products into the country, as it is the case in other countries.
But according to them, there are systems in place by the authourity to check these products, so that the public could be protected.
She said, the FDA’s Post Market Surveillance programme, was strong enough to detect products that are fake and not good for human consumption.
“No country can stop these products from coming into the country, but we have the capacity to deal with it” Mrs. Darko told journalists during a press conference last Friday.
The Authority was addressing reports of fake rice (plastic rice) on the Ghanaian markets, video of which had gone viral on social media.
Touching on the main issue, the FDA boss, said it was completely false news that there are plastic rice on the Ghanaian markets, saying plastic rice could not be cook and consumed.
“The physical and chemical properties of plastics are such that, they ordinarily cannot be reconstituted into edible food. This is because, plastics cannot absorb water and do not mix with water”, she said.
Since the rumour on social media, the FDA, said it conducted it own investigations to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the rumours, using their nationwide market surveillance programme, to obtain random samples from the public.
According to the Authority, “We subjected all the samples received to laboratory investigation. Results from the laboratory analysis indicated that all the samples were in fact authentic rice, and not plastic”.
The Authorities said, it followed it up by contacting its international partner, the National Food Safety Authority Network (INFOSAN) which said, “Rumoured artificial, plastic, fake rice appearing in Singapore, Nigeria and Canada, turned out to be real, authentic rice”.
On why some of the rice bounced anytime they were made into balls and hit on the floor, she said, the ability of rice to bounce, will depend on the amount of starch in it and not because it is plastic.
“The textural properties of rice varieties are due to the nature of their starch content, that is the ratio of amylose to amylopectin responsible for the sticky nature of rice and its quantity is affected by the varietal differences.
This character of the starch in the rice enables cooked rice grains to agglomerate and allow it to be kneaded into a malleable sphere that can bounce off hard surfaces as depicted in some of the videos on social media”.
Amylose is responsible for the gelatinous nature of rice and therefore contributes to the bouncy properties of the rice when made into balls. The varieties of the rice that contains a higher quantity of Amylose, will produce greater bounce, whilst those with higher amylopectin, will bounce less.
The FDA said videos of the said “plastic rice” were “industrial materials” used in producing plastic bottles, polythene bags etc. which is far more expenses than rice.
There were videos of such materials processed and produced for industries, as well as other demonstrations that showed that, it was impossible to consume rice that has plastic content. Mrs., Darko said some orange sellers who were arrested at Madina Market by the Authority and the Police upon a tip off, are still facing the law.