Customs Officials Seize 2.5 Tons Of Counterfeit Plastic Rice In Nigeria


It’s been an urban legend for years now: Chinese counterfeiters are shaping plastic pellets into a rice-like form, and selling the fake food as real rice. Most of these reports have been unsubstantiated and thus need a little salt. But either those reports are more real than previously thought, or somebody finally did it, as Nigerian authorities are reporting they’ve impounded 2.5 tons of plastic rice.

The AFP reports that 100 bags of the rice were found by Nigerian customs authorities. The smugglers fell afoul of Nigeria’s de facto ban on rice imports in an attempt to bolster domestic production. That’s created a severe issue as domestic production can’t keep up with demand as the Nigerian government struggles with inflation and the cost of a 55-pound bag of rice has risen to the equivalent of $63 USD.

It’s not clear yet the extent of the operation. The rice was credible enough to pass as the real deal; despite a faint smell, it became sticky when boiled, and might have been consumed if it reached shelves. While plastic rice does exist as an actual product, it hasn’t been cost-effective to attempt to pass it off as a real food item. it’s not clear the exact source of this counterfeit food, as the scheme is still being unraveled. This is not a concern in the United States: America grows so much rice we export half our crop. But as food concerns intensify across the world, and counterfeit food becomes more of a problem, other parts of the world may not be so lucky.

(via Gizmodo)