April 15, 2017 / Comments (0)

Travel Warning: Plastic Rice


No matter where you travel, heed this warning: Being aware of what you eat and drink is a “must do.”

The Reported Warning:

There are many foreign countries that serve and sell rice.  For that matter, rice may very well be a staple on your very own dinner table.    So what about the reported plastic rice warning?  

That’s Not Rice?

According to the Korea Times, the world’s largest producer of rice is China.  They produce over 200 tons of rice every year.  Some of you may also have read that some of that rice is said to be harmful because of the “plastic content.”

KT and other sources allege the unnamed Chinese rice companies are making and selling artificial rice.  Artificial rice is said to be made from potato starch and plastic and then steamed with rice aroma.  This fake rice is then reportedly mixed in with real, organic rice to intentionally fool purchasers.  It allegedly sometimes contains enough plastic to make a small plastic bag.


Why would the Chinese allegedly do this?  Research indicates the supposed motivation is a financial one.  However, while we here at Must Do Travels love a story that goes viral as much as the next website, it is important to note that, as this goes to press, none of the sources have provided proof that it is actually cheaper to manufacture plastic rice than it would be to grow real rice.

What Me, Worry?

Unfortunately, authoritative, first-hand reports of this artificial rice are nonexistent.  Snopes.com, neither confirms nor denies this story.  The site simply skeptically reports the claim to be “unproven.”

The site does note that the plastic rice story could just be part of a  “standard ‘food from China’ panic.”  But, either way, Snopes isn’t always right,” you say?  That’s true.  In fact, they’ve been wrong more often than most people know.

The Underground Health Reporter, which believes there is some truth behind the plastic rice warning, reports that there’ve not been any “reports of fake Wuchang rice hitting grocery store shelves in the United States” and adds “it’s still good to exercise caution.”

So You Want To Play It Safe?

If you wish to err on the side of caution, there are a few simple ways to help you spot this artificial rice.  Whether or not this is fact or total fiction though may be less important than one’s personal sense of well-being.  Thus, we present some simple testing methods obtained online.

Warning Signs And Tests

The Fire Test

Using a match or lighter, light a few sample grains of your rice.  

If they fail to burn, they are real and organic.  

If they do burn then the rice is artificial.


The Mold Test

Boil some of the sample rice in water.  

Next, place the cooked kernels in some type of plastic container.  

Place the container in the sunlight for a few days.  

If the rice becomes moldy, it is real or organic.


The Mortar And Pestle

Place a small quantity of rice into a mortar.  

Crush the rice with your pestle.  

If the rice is organic, you will be left with a white powder.

If you are left with a yellow stain, it is artificial rice.


The Water Test

Take a tablespoon of your rice and gently let it fall into a full glass of water.  

If your rice sinks to the bottom, it is real rice.

If it does not, it isn’t.

The above tests are easy to perform.  They could also help protect you and your family and provide peace of mind.  (If nothing else, they’re “fun for the whole family”, right?)

After all, plastic rice is not an exotic food; it’s just weird and harmful.  If you’re worried about what you eat when you travel, do what your wandering wordsmith does when he travels and find out where the locals eat.  Bon voyage and Bon Appetit!

Last modified: April 15, 2017

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