The search for the poisonous cereal coming on the heels of the alarm raised by some stakeholders over the influx of unmonitored and unregulated rice into the country through its various borders.
In an interview with Saturday Tribune, NAFDAC’s Director of Special Duties, Mr Abubakar Jimoh, said: “Immediately we read in the papers that plastic/fake rice was being shipped to Nigeria through our borders, our Acting Director General, Mrs Yetunde Oni, gave a marching order to all our NAFDAC formations scattered across the country.”
According to him, “at NAFDAC, we have what is called the Post Marketing Surveillance Directorate which is in charge of going round local markets to confirm the standards of foods that are being sold there. So, even if this rice beats Customs checkpoints at the border posts and gets into the markets, our men can still go there and seize them for destruction. This directorate goes about sniffing for substandard food and drug items in our markets. The Acting DG has given our officers a marching order and they are currently combing markets all over the country for this plastic/fake rice.”
The Nigeria Customs Service has also intensified seizure of toxic rice illegally imported into the country.
The fears of consumers about the toxic/plastic rice particularly stemmed from the fact that Yuletide, known for the heavy consumption of rice in many homes, is here.
Nigeria shares major borders with Benin Republic at Seme Border (Lagos State), Idiroko (Ogun State), Saki (Oyo State) and Chikanda (Kwara State), and it is on record that all sorts of rice have passed through these routes into many Nigerian markets unnoticed.
Although the existence of unhealthy and toxic rice in many Nigerian markets has been confirmed by NCS and NAFDAC, the agencies said they had not found a grain of plastic rice in any local market.