The Wuchang rice is one of the most popular types of rice because of its unique taste and smell. Because of its popularity and the growing demand, the Wuchang rice is twice more expensive than ‘normal’ rice. Even this hasn’t slowed the consumers down and the Wuchang rice demand has grown exponentially.
With a demand that can’t be met, producers in China started to produce fake Wuchang rice (that is known as plastic rice) for the same price by mixing sweet potatoes and toxic plastic with it.
The plastic rice has the same form and size as that of the original Wuchang rice but only after cooking it, we can discover its true nature. The rice becomes hard and smells like bad plastic. That smell comes from the chemical fragrances that producers use to fool the consumers and imitate the genuine Wuchang. They go a step further and even pack it in the same kind of package as the original Wuchang rice is packed. The toxins from the plastic and the fragrance are extremely dangerous for the health.
It is believed that the annual production of Wuchang rice doesn’t exceed 800.000 tons, while an overwhelming 10 million tons are sold. This shows that more than 90% of the marketed Wuchang rice is actually fake plastic rice.
Allegedly, this operation of producing toxic rice has been going on for more than 4 years and shows no sign of slowing down. The Korea Times Newspaper had published an interview with a producer of this fake rice who claimed that fake rice is a necessary evil in the world of on-growing demand and it brings enormous profits.
This process of producing fake plastic rice has caught the eye of the National Food Authority of the Philippines and was made public only after producers started importing massive amounts of what was supposedly Wuchang rice for suspiciously low prices.
Using a spectroscopy device, they have discovered that a consumption of three bowls of fake Wuchang rice would equal a consumption of one whole plastic bag, leading to severe digestion issues. If we take into account that most Chinese eat half a pound daily, this plastic rice problem becomes a serious health hazard.
According to the research they have conducted, a high amount of BPA (or bisphenol A) was found in the plastic rise. This is an industrial chemical that is able to obstruct the functions of hormones – specifically estrogen. It can seriously damage the reproductive system.
A class of chemicals known as ‘phthalates’ have been discovered to be at high levels in the plastic rice. These also cause hormone disruption and play with testosterone levels. Because of their harmful effects, they are banned in the EU and Japan since 2005.
For now, there are no reports of imported fake rice in the United States but it has been confirmed that plastic ‘Wuchang’ rice was discovered in countries like Singapore, Vietnam, and India. It is still unclear if these countries are investigating the source of the food they are importing or if producers have found a way to bypass these investigations.