Recent reports of plastic rice in Nigeria were untrue as the suspicious shipment merely contained a significant amount of contaminants, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has said.
The acting Director-General of the agency, Yetunde Oni, at a press briefing on Thursday in Abuja, said though the rice was found not to be plastic, contrary to media reports, it was still “unwholesome for human consumption”.
There was anxiety in country earlier this month when a report stated that the Nigerian Custom Services had intercepted tonnes of plastic rice allegedly imported by unscrupulous businessmen for distribution during the Christmas festive period.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, however debunked the report after some preliminary studies revealed otherwise.
He said there was no truth in the report and assured Nigerians that there was no cause for alarm.
However, the laboratory result which was made public Thursday confirmed the earlier declaration by the minister.
Mrs. Oni however said that the rice failed other integrity test which thus ruled it out for human consumption.
“Based on the above laboratory result, the product is not plastic but rice contaminated with micro organisms above permissible limit.
“Hence the seized rice consignment is unsatisfactory and therefore unwholesome for human consumption”, Mrs. Oni stated.
She said the consignment would be destroyed once handed over by the Nigeria Customs Service.
Comptroller-General of Custom, Hameed Ali, said irrespective of the outcome of the findings, the service would continue to do its work in ensuring that fake and banned goods are not allowed into the country.
He revealed that over 40,000 bags of rice had been seized in recent time, part of which were sent to the internally displaced persons’ camps (IDPs).
Mr. Ali, who was represented at the briefing by his deputy, Umar Ilya, stated that as part of the move to curb illegal importation, the service would not only seize the goods but also confiscate the means of transporting them.
“We are still guided by the intelligence we have which indicates that several metric tones of expired and dangerous rice are still lying in wait at warehouses in neighboring countries.
“The target of these products is Nigerian markets. We will therefore intensify our patrols to ensure that economic saboteurs do not succeed.
Mr. Ali however urged warehouse owners across the country not to accept such smuggled products in their facilities.