KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday December 14, 2016 – Rice imports from Guyana and Suriname will now be allowed into Jamaica, after the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) temporarily halted the clearance of rice at all ports of entry over reports that plastic rice had entered the local market.
On Monday, the JCA stopped the shipments and met with the relevant regulatory agencies, including the Bureau of Standards (BSJ), the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), to verify whether the artificial rice was in fact in the country.
The concern was triggered by a Television Jamaica report on Sunday, showing a woman cooking the product.
However, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda said yesterday there was no evidence of plastic rice in samples tested by the BSJ.
“The BSJ was provided with samples… and, so far, I can assure the people of Jamaica that there is absolutely no evidence of any contamination of plastic within the samples tested,” he said.
The minister said more samples will be taken from across the country to be tested and the BSJ had been asked to conduct island wide investigations into the source of all rice now in supermarkets.
According to the Jamaica Observer, Jamaica imports rice from Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam, India, United States, Guyana, Thailand, China, and Suriname.
Samuda said yesterday that rice originating from Guyana and Suriname would be cleared to enter the island.
“The reason for this is very simple: Guyana and Suriname are considered to be a part of our domestic market. They are members of CARICOM and we have never had incidents of any kind of contamination or otherwise. So, there is no justifiable reason for us to hold those shipments of rice,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the minister expressed concern about the importation of rice from sections of the Far East.
“In three instances, we have been advised of fake labeling, and we are in the process now of confirming the allegations. We have to be very certain of the source of food that enters this country,” he said.