Plastic rice scare hits Bali

After Bekasi’s mayor confirmed the existence of plastic rice in Bantargebang market, West Java, subsequent to a lab test this morning, Gianyar representatives for the Department of Industry and Trade decided to go on a little investigative trip to visit rice vendors, reports Tribun Bali.

A sample of rice was taken from each vendor, which will be transported and examined by BPOM (Indonesia’s National Drug and Food Control Agency), to ensure that beras plastik is not being sold in Gianyar. A similar investigation also took place in Denpasar this morning at Pasar Agung.

Meanwhile in Buleleng, rice vendors are seeing prices for their rice drop from Rp 10,000 per kilogram to Rp 8,300 per kilogram, as more and more customers become wary of purchasing rice from local markets.

Jembrana residents are also expressing concerns and worry because of the lack of clarity around what constitutes real and fake rice. One young woman commented that the only difference she knows is that beras plastik will float if you soak them in water. “Although that’s just by reading what’s on the internet”, she admits.

So far, the only rice-bust that have occurred in Bali is vendors getting caught for selling fake organic rice (though the rice is still real).

The Secretary – General of the Indonesian Market Traders Association, as reported by Tribun Bali, has tried to reassure all of the beras plastik worriers this afternoon by giving three basic tips to follow when buying rice. Firstly, rice should feel rough – not smooth and slippery. If it is smooth and slippery, it is most likely synthetic. Secondly, what color is it? Is it more transparent white or cloudy white? real rice should be cloudy white. Thirdly, examine the composition of the rice when it is piled up. If every single rice appears to be in perfect shape and unbroken then it is likely to be fake.

Seems like basic and sensible advice to follow. However, given Indonesia’s history with food scandals, maybe we’re better off just going nasi-less and loading up on mie and kentang instead until we’re sure that Bali is beras plastik – free.


Illustration: Flickr

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