Thailand to test decade-old rice stockpile for safety

Picture courtesy of Ministry of Commerce

The Government of Thailand confirmed that it will conduct lab tests on a decade-old rice stockpile to ascertain its safety for human consumption. This rice, a remnant from the tenure of ex-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, has been stored in Surin warehouses. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin assured this move in response to public demand for an official inspection of the rice quality by independent bodies.

The 62 year old prime minister’s declaration followed a series of public rice-eating stunts by Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai and himself. These efforts were aimed at convincing the public about the rice’s edibility. The rice, a part of the contentious rice-pledging scheme from a decade ago, has been under scrutiny for its safety.

Addressing the matter, Srettha said the government treats consumer safety as very important.

“If it [the old rice] is proved to be unsafe to eat, we aren’t going to sell it. The government has quite a clear stance on this.”

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He was also responding to reports about the government’s potential plans to export the decade-old rice to Africa, while critics suggested its use for alcohol or vinegar production.

The Department of Medical Sciences will conduct the rice tests to counter various social media claims about the rice being unfit for consumption or sale, a government spokesman confirmed.

These claims include those from an organic chemistry expert, Associate Professor Weerachai Phutdhawong from Kasetsart University, who detected aflatoxins in the rice during preliminary testing. Aflatoxins, toxins commonly found in crops, are linked to an increased risk of liver cancer.

The government’s move to test the rice also aims to dismiss accusations of attempting to conceal the Yingluck administration’s rice-pledging scheme. The government spokesman urged Weerachai to provide more information about his testing methods and the aflatoxin levels found, questioning the legitimacy of his claims and his access to the rice samples, reported Bangkok Post.

Despite the controversy, the government remains firm that aflatoxin levels of no more than 20 parts per billion are deemed safe for consumption. Further lab testing of the rice will start, tomorrow, May 13.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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