Nigeria markets in everything

by on December 23, 2016 at 2:35 am in Food and Drink, Law, Uncategorized | Permalink

Nigeria has confiscated 2.5 tonnes of “plastic rice” smuggled into the country by unscrupulous businessmen, the customs service says.

Lagos customs chief Haruna Mamudu said the fake rice was intended to be sold in markets during the festive season.

He said the rice was very sticky after it was boiled and “only God knows what would have happened” if people ate it.

It is not clear where the seized sacks came from but rice made from plastic pellets was found in China last year.

Rice is the most popular staple food in Nigeria.

Here is the full story, via Jodi Ettenberg.

Addendum: Here is an update, as the story spirals into increasing confusion.

1 Skeptic December 23, 2016 at 2:38 am

Great example of why Tyler’s love for shitty Chinese street food is such a pose

2 Thiago Ribeiro December 23, 2016 at 4:57 am

I don’t think every Chinese street vendor sells plastic rice.

3 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 6:45 am

In fact, possibly no one has ever sold fake plastic rice (see Snopes link and discussion below).

4 Thiago Ribeiro December 23, 2016 at 7:53 am

So we all dodged this bullet, specially the Chinese. Thanks.

5 Private Obvious December 23, 2016 at 3:23 am

25 kilograms of shredded plastic can be converted into about 24 liters of diesel, depending on type of plastic. The current oil price is around $53 for barrel which makes it about 38 cents a kilogram. Rice is about 38 cents a kilogram at the moment… Meh, it’s a wash.

6 anon December 23, 2016 at 9:08 am

Thanks for that research. It is amazing to me that plastic can be as cheap as something that just grows. Even a one season crop.

Truly the earth’s petroleum reserves have been a boon.

(if something like this happened it might be because some plastic waste product looked enough like rice to serve as filler)

7 JWatts December 23, 2016 at 10:13 am

It can’t possibly economical to produce plastic ‘rice’, however if some unscrupulous person has a few hundred tons of waste plastic that would other wise have to be thrown away, they might try to make a quick and dirty Euro off of it.

8 Jan December 23, 2016 at 4:12 am

This is an odd story. The problem with fake rice is if someone buys it one time, they know it’s fake and never buy again. If you’re going to counterfeit something, pharmaceuticals are a good ROI and can generate return customers. People often have a hard time telling if it is a fake drug, even after they consume it. I’d imagine it is rather difficult to produce extremely realistic plastic rice. And given the relatively low payoff, I wonder if this stuff was an accidental byproduct of something else rather than intended to be sold as rice.

9 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 4:53 am

I agree, it is odd. Doing something once can pay off, but it’s really hard to see how it would be worth it for fake rice. The price of rice in Nigeria has apparently skyrocketed recently, but it is still no more than $1500 USD or so per tonne according to this recent article:

10 anon December 23, 2016 at 9:09 am

Instead of street drugs cut with X, it is rice cut with waste plastic?

11 yo December 23, 2016 at 4:22 am

Strange story. Anyway, ingesting 1-2 spoonful of plastic is no big deal, it will come back out. And you’ll ingest much less than that since the first bite would let you spit it out!

12 carlospln December 23, 2016 at 4:43 am

Its not the 1 or 2 spoonfuls

Is everything else:

13 Troll me December 24, 2016 at 3:05 pm

I don’t think you’re going to get that much chemical activity out of a single serving of plastic rice.

14 maros. December 23, 2016 at 4:47 am

It is actually quite striking that marginal cost of a grain of plastic rice is lower than that of a real rice. How come?

15 JWatts December 23, 2016 at 10:14 am

Waste plastic.

16 Gj December 23, 2016 at 5:20 am

Update flash from the BBC: Nigeria denies ‘plastic rice’ reports –
That’s the health minister. Lagos customs chief originated the initial report and a BBC reporter was given access to some. This is getting even stranger…

17 Daniel December 23, 2016 at 6:18 am

This is most likely an urban legend. Fake food is the Yucca Spider of the 2010s. See here:

18 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 6:33 am


Hopefully the original post gets corrected.

19 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 6:44 am

Also, Snopes notes that the linked BBC article is actually far from clear, and suggests the rice has not been conclusively identified as plastic (something most of us missed).

Shame on BBC for a sensationalist, misleading framing of the issue. And shame on us for not reading fully.

20 Baphomet December 23, 2016 at 6:31 am

They have plastic food of all kinds in Japan! I have seen it with my own eyes.

21 Ronald Brak December 23, 2016 at 7:04 am

Plastic used by various manufacturers comes in small white pellets that look like rice. Someone may have just found some bags of this and jumped to the wrong conclusion. Or someone told the new guy it was counterfeit rice and the joke went too far.

22 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 7:52 am

From the article, this looks like real rice that people wrongly speculated might be plastic. But a video featuring those plastic pellets features in the overall legend.

23 louis December 23, 2016 at 7:52 am

“markets in everything” seems like the wrong category for fraudulent misrepresentation

24 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 7:54 am

“Markets in everything” fake news edition?

25 dearieme December 23, 2016 at 9:07 am

“… the story spirals into increasing confusion.” It is Nigeria.

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