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Gov't experts say 'fake rice' from Davao contaminated

(Updated 12:32 p.m.) Government experts agree that there is no conclusive evidence that supposedly fake rice in Davao is indeed fake.
What is certain is that the rice has been contaminated, and Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agriculture (OPAFSA) Francis Pangilinan is saying don't eat it.

The ‘fake rice’ timeline
By Amita Legaspi
June 20, 2015 6 p.m.
- Ritchie Falle and Cesar Falle bought 20 kilos of rice from Noel Store owned by Noel Canencia
-The 20 kilos of rice were placed in two plastic bags, 10 kilos in each bag
- The first bag was brought to the Hungry Mama’s canteen, owned by Griño's sister-in-law Hannah Falle, while the second bag was brought to the Falle home
-The rice brought home was cooked and consumed by the family that same day

9:30 p.m.
- Jamaica Joyce Dela Cruz Mantos, service crewman at Hungry Mama’s, cooked the rice in two cookers
- She noticed nothing unusual with the rice while it is being cooked
- At least 40 customers of the canteen ate the rice

June 21, 9 a.m.
- Hannah stored the leftover rice in the canteen’s freezer

June 22, 12 p.m.
- Hannah took the now frozen leftover rice, transferred it into a clean plastic bag and brought it home.

3 p.m.
- Hannah arrived home, left the leftover rice on the dining table, and waited for their new refrigerator to be delivered
- When the refrigerator was in place, Hannah placed the leftover rice inside the chiller even though the refrigerator was not powered up.
- She turned the power on two hours later.

June 25, 4 a.m.
- Grino’s husband took the leftover rice from the refrigerator with the intention of making fried rice. But they found the leftover rice too tough to be cooked.
- When they checked the rice on the evening of June 25, they found that it was Styrofoam-like.
- They then reported the matter to authorities. National Food Authority officials arrive and take samples.

— DVM, GMA News
During the Senate agriculture committee hearing Monday, Assistant Director Alberto Cariso Jr. of the Food Development Center and Undersecretary Kenneth Hartigan-Go of the Food and Drug Administration said the rice in question was contaminated with dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and three other chemicals used in pharmaceutical tablets.
 “'Yung NFA cooked rice, wala kaming makitang contaminants... pero ang alleged fake rice, nag-ma-match sa presence of DBP,” the food expert noted.
Tests showed that the rice sample reacted and disintegrated when mixed with acetone and ethanol, which does not happen with ordinary rice, he said.
“Nag-react sa ethanol at acetone. Ang allegedly fake rice nag-disintegrate sa acetone. No reaction sa other solvents,” Cariso added.
“We are certain it is a contaminated rice. Ang contaminated ay nakuha sa ibang source kasi ang dibutyl phthalate hindi dapat nasa rice. Ang aking analysis, maaaring nandoon sa sample na iyon ang dibutyl phthalate,” he said.
The FDA also received samples of the cooked rice, and were tested in a slightly different process than what was done in the NFA laboratory, said Hartigan-Go.
“We found three chemicals. These are normally found in pharmaceutical products. These are coating and flavoring agents. Hindi naman sila naka-ka-sama, but I... reserve my comments for later,” he said. 
Committee chairman Senator Cynthia Villar asked why would someone put the said coating agents into the rice, but the experts were not able to give any answer which irked the lawmaker.
“We cannot risk the lives of people here," the senator said, noting it is not just a matter of life and death "... because the people might get sick. 
"Iyong wala nga tayong ginagawa nagka-ka-sakit tayo, ito pa kayang pakakainin tayo nang kung ano- ano. Is it safe or not safe. What do we say?” Villar added.

In a press briefing last Friday, the OPAFSA noted that the so-called fake rice found in Davao was an isolated case. Samples of synthetic rice reported outside the region supposedly tested negative for dibutyl phthalate.
Pangilinan said further tests are being undertaken to determine if the rice in question is indeed fake.
“The position we have taken is that there are contaminants, we recommend that we should not ingest, consume rice that has these contaminants. Our findings is that it is isolated to Davao, but we continue to remain vigilant – and the inspections daily – so we will be able to expose and detect these kinds of rice,” he said. 
The contaminated rice was first discovered by Carmencita Griño and her mother Erlina Falle, both of Matina, Aplaya, Davao City and brought it to the attention of GMA Network in Davao City.
After initial investigations and inspections were conducted, authorities have yet to determine where the contaminated rice came from. – With Keith Richard Mariano/VS, GMA News
Tags: fakerice