Jakarta. Indonesian authorities have vowed to crack down on the reported distribution of synthetic rice, said to be made with potato starch and toxic resin and imported from China.
“My subordinates will coordinate with officials from the [Finance Ministry’s] Directorate General of Customs and Excise to track down the source,” Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel said in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Rachmat stressed that his ministry had never permitted the import of synthetic rice, made form the starch of potatoes and sweet potatoes, and bonded with industrial synthetic resin, more commonly used to make plastic bags.
The issue of the so-called plastic rice came into the spotlight this week following a police raid on a store at the Mutiara Gading market in Bekasi, on the eastern outskirts of Jakarta, that was found to be selling the synthetic rice, mixed with real grains.
Local traders said on Wednesday that they bought their rice from wholesalers and did not know how to distinguish the synthetic grains from real rice.
“I don’t even known what it looks or tastes like,” Soni, a vendor at the Kebonjahe market in Bogor, south of Jakarta, told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.
“I’ve only heard about this plastic rice in the media, but no one’s told us what it’s like.”
He added he bought his rice from wholesalers in Indramayu, a major rice-growing region in West Java.
Politicians have also weighed in on the matter, calling for the government to tighten food import controls to prevent harmful substances from being sold as food.
“This is important for people’s peace of minds,” Hermanto, a member of the House of Representatives’ food oversight commission, told the Globe on Wednesday.
Additional reporting from Investor Daily