By Rainier Allan Ronda, Philstar.com
A food scientist at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City clarified reports yesterday that she recommended the consumption of “fake rice” that has surfaced in Davao.
Ma. Concepcion Lizada, professor emeritus of UP Food Science, stressed that she was not familiar with the nature of the “fake rice” being sold in Davao City that has caused a health or nutrition scare.
“I did not say we should eat fake rice,” Lizada said in a statement to The STAR, commenting on an article that came out on July 9.
The article quoted statements she made on the fake rice scare, giving fabricated rice produced from extrusion technology a bad reputation.
Lizada made the comment at an open forum on the first day of the two-day 37th Annual Scientific Meeting of the National Academy of Science and Technology at the Manila Hotel, where she gave a presentation on “Agriculture-Health Convergence: Synergy in Managing Non-Communicable Diseases.”
She stressed that she did not know the nature of the “fake rice” being sold in Davao, if that was what she referred to as fabricated rice produced using extrusion technology.
“It is extruded grain. It should have gone through Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Trade and Industry, and its quality and safety checked,” she said.
“If it is from another country, it must have gone through these agencies, and the DA as well.
“At this point, we don’t know what it’s made of and if it’s safe. I would advise that we don’t consume it, that it be confiscated and the source investigated,” Lizada said.
She explained that any food product being sold in the market should go through proper documentation and certification processes required by the FDA.
“If it has plasticizers, these might have leached out of the packaging materials, especially if it has been exposed to high temperatures during storage, shipment or handling,” Lizada said.
“I would rather not call it fabricated rice. It’s giving fabricated rice a very bad reputation,” Lizada told her fellow scientists, academicians and researchers at the forum.
She cited a commercial product called corn rice that is now widely available in the market.
“In fact, there was a media blitz about the corn rice. It’s good. I tasted it myself,” Lizada said.
Lizada said the fabricated rice or corn rice was a product of food extrusion technology, which she discussed in her presentation as being tapped to fortify food staples.
“It’s available. It’s a good technology. The issue is just why did it go through the backdoor rather than it being sold as grains made from different starch sources,” Lizada said in the open forum.
In her clarification letter, Lizada recalled that she discussed the possibility of processing different starches from broken rice, corn, cassava or sweet potato and shaping them like grain.
“The process is extrusion, which is the same process for producing snacks, breakfast cereals, etc. The more precise term to use would be ‘extruded grains’,” Lizada said.
“Corn rice is locally manufactured and I presume this is extruded corn. Perhaps we should not call it corn rice, but use a more appropriate name to reflect the fact that it is not made from rice,” she said.
She reportedly complained of cyber bullying over the story. (The STAR apologizes for the misunderstanding over her remarks.)
- Photo from Philstar.com