China is one of the largest producers of rice in the world.
On its own, China produces on average more than 200 million tons of rice every year. (source)
And while many may think that’s a lot, it’s apparently still not enough to meet current demands.
Why else would companies resort to selling fake plastic rice?
This is exactly what happened for a specific type of rice called Wuchang rice. This rice is well-known for its fragrance and can cost twice as much as regular rice.
According to Beyond Headlines, it’s estimated that 800,000 tons of Wuchang rice is grown annually, yet sales for this kind of rice has been set at 10 million tons!
What’s Used to Make Fake Plastic Rice?
Chinese rice companies sell fake rice made out of synthetic resins (plastic) and potato starch, which is then sprayed with an artificial aroma to make them more appealing.
The synthetic grains really do look like the real thing! However, when you try to cook it, it will actually maintain a hard texture.
To further confuse consumers consumers, distributors of rice grown in the Wuchang province mix it with the real stuff.
Dangers of Eating Plastic Rice
Eating 3 bowls of fake plastic rice is approximately the same as eating 1 plastic bag (source). This is incredibly toxic to the body because of cancer-causing chemicals like BPA and phthalates which are commonly found in plastic.
How To Avoid Plastic Rice
Here are a few simple methods you can do to separate the real rice from the fake stuff.
Test 1: Water
Pour a tablespoon of the rice in a glass full of water. If the rice falls to the bottom, it is okay for consumption.
Test 2: Fire
Light a few grains of rice on fire. Real rice will turn black and burn, while plastic will melt. You should be able to see and smell the difference.
Test 3: Mortar and pestle
Crush several grains of rice, and if it’s real, the rice will turn into a white powder. But if you notice yellow stains, it is most likely fake plastic rice.
Test 4: Mold
Cook some rice in water and transfer it to a plastic container. Leave it in a sunny spot for a few days. If you notice mold growing on it, then it’s real.
Doing these simple and easy tests only require a little bit of effort and can go a long way towards protecting your health.