MANILA, Philippines — The National Food Authority debunked persistent rumors of fake rice being sold in the markets, saying samples submitted for analysis proved to be the real thing.
NFA administrator Jason Aquino said six raw and two cooked samples were submitted to the agency’s Food Development Center after buyers posted their complaints on social media.
“The result of the (tests on the) samples are totoong (real) rice, there is no fake rice circulating (in the) whole country,” Aquino said.
Jocelyn Sales, the FDC director, said consumer complaints of stomach pains from the supposed fake rice may have been caused by other factors.
“May causes kung bakit sasakit ang tiyan … maaring may spoilage … baka (may) bacteria doon (na) nakakasakit (ng) tiyan. ‘Di agad bigas ang sanhi, maaring tubig ang sanhi (There are several causes for stomach pains … it could be spoilage … there might be bacteria that causes stomach pain. Rice shouldn’t be immediately blamed, water might be the cause),” Sales explained.
Retailers urged people to stop spreading what they stressed has been proven to be false information, saying their sales had suffered as a result.
Some, like Amirkhalid Abubakar, who was reported to barangay officials for allegedly selling fake rice, said some buyers even demanded refunds.
Abubakar said his sales plunged by around half the normal volume as he complained some stores were taking advantage of the scare by accusing competitors like him.
The Grains Retailers Confederation recalled that a similar controversy erupted in 2015, prompting congressional probes that concluded the rice was contaminated, not fake.
Jaime Magbanua, national president of the grain sellers’ group, said the fake rice scare was “starting to create confusion” and suspects the rumors were started by those seeking to exploit the market during the lean months from June to August.
The industry group called on government to create a rice watch committee and said it also supported a proposed law penalizing the circulation of fake news.