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Scare over plastic rice spurs inspection across 74 outlets

12,June, 2017

CHENNAI: Two days after claims of plastic rice being sold in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh started doing the rounds, the food safety department here undertook inspections at retail stores across the city on Friday. Officials say they found no trace of plastic grains.

Following a directive from the state food safety commissioner, officials inspected rice sold at 74 outlets across the city, including in Anna Nagar, Mylapore and Parry’s corner. Fourteen samples were elected and sent for testing.

"They turned out to be real rice grains," said R Kathiravan, designated food safety officer for Chennai. The department had undertaken similar inspections two months ago in parts of North Chennai following concerns raised by the public after a video showing plastic rice being sold in markets started doing the rounds."We did not find anything amiss then too. However, we will continue our checks if and when we get complaints," said Kathiravan.

While food safety officials fanned out to conduct inspections on Friday, a group of people at the bus depot in Ayanavaram claimed they had found plastic rice in the government canteen there. Some rolled the rice into balls and threw them at passing buses. Officials collected nine samples from the canteen alone.

The directive was given in the wake of a complaint lodged by a man from Hyderabad alleging the biriyani he had bought was made of plastic grains.

Two day later, another customer from another part of the city approached the police with a similar complaint. He said that when he had rolled the rice into balls, "it bounced off like it was made of rubber". Following these incidents, social media was abuzz with videos of plastic rice being imported in from China. The videos put the spotlight on how polythene inserted into machines create noodle like plastic sticks which are finally cut into the shape of rice. This is not the first time videos have triggered panic among the public, pushing food safety officials to conduct checks. In April, officials undertook inspections looking for eggs made of plastic.

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