Speculation has been rife in Freetown in the past two weeks among rice sellers, consumers and the public over unsubstantiated news circulated on social media that MK Stores of 12 Abacha Street had imported plastic rice into the country.
The issue became topical when the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) picked up the news and interviewed the Director of the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau who denied that such a product had been imported into the country.
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation also got seized with the matter. In a follow-up to the social media “whatsapp” video clips of the alleged Sonia brand plastic rice, a sample was collected by the Food Safety Unit and forwarded to the Fourah Bay College Chemistry laboratory for analysis to collaborate tests done by the Standards Bureau on the same product.
In its report, the FBC Chemistry lab wrote to the Head of the Food Safety Unit to report that qualitative chemical and physical test were carried out on each of the samples submitted. Burnt in the fire, the samples did not crumple or melt as plastic will do when subjected to intense heat.
At the same time, the Standards Bureau which examines all food products imported into the country for quality is satisfied that their inspection and analysis of the Sonia brand rice approved that the product was real and fit for purpose.
Stating that the ministry’s food safety unit has not received any complaint of plastic contaminated rice from the public, as has been the case when such products enter the market, the Senior Public Health Superintendent in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has also given the Sonia brand rice a clean bill of health.
The public is therefore reassured that they can confidently buy and consume the Sonia brand rice in 25kg bags as it has been tested and certified by the authorities as authentic and fit for consumption.