The shipment of rice to Jamaica from Guyana and Suriname was placed on a temporary halt following a discovery that was made by the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) of plastic rice entering the local market. The clearance of rice was stopped at all ports of entry. A meeting which included the Bureau of Standards (BSJ), the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), and the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) was held on Monday to verify whether the artificial rice had made its way into the country.
The first report of the affair was made on Television Jamaica, on Sunday, with a video that demonstrated a woman cooking the product. The Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Karl Samuda, however found that there was no evidence of plastic rice in the recent testing done by the BSJ. He said: “The BSJ was provided with samples… and, so far, I can assure the people of Jamaica that there is absolutely no evidence of any contamination of plastic within the samples tested.”
Paying no heed to the results of the BSJ, the minister said an island wide investigation of the rice source for supermarkets will be done so that samples can be taken in for more testing. The Jamaica Observer shared that Jamaica imports rice from Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam, India, United States, Guyana, Thailand, China, and Suriname. On Tuesday, Samuda said that rice originating from Guyana and Suriname would be cleared to enter the island.
“The reason for this is very simple: Guyana and Suriname are considered to be a part of our domestic market. They are members of CARICOM and we have never had incidents of any kind of contamination or otherwise. So, there is no justifiable reason for us to hold those shipments of rice,” he explained.
The minister also expressed concern about the importation of rice from section of the Far East.
“In three instances, we have been advised of fake labeling, and we are in the process now of confirming the allegations. We have to be very certain of the source of food that enters this country,” he said.