Author Topic: Big C says its packed rice totally safe  (Read 1728 times)

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Offline thaiga

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Big C says its packed rice totally safe
« on: June 25, 2013, 12:42:03 PM »
BANGKOK, June 25
Big C Supercentre and Sandee Rice gave assurances to Thai consumers that the quality of their packed rice has been strictly controlled and completely free from health-hazardous substances.

Sandee Rice is the major supplier of the grain for the hypermarket’s packed rice distribution.

Burin Tanathavornlarp, managing director of Sandee Rice Co, and Kudatarn Narkviroj, Big C Supercentre’s corporate relations director, jointly ruled out rumours in the social media about rotten rice at some hypermarkets in the country.

They said their rice packaging process was up to international standards and subject to quality checks by globally-accredited SGS laboratory analysis.

According to widespread rumour through social media, rotten rice from the government’s rice pledging programme has been packed in plastic bags and sold in the local market including at hypermarkets.

The Big C and Sandee executives took the local media to inspect their quality control and packaging processes to ensure safety for consumers.

They said it would be unnecessary for rice to be certified by the Food and Drugs Administration since the procedure of quality checks by laboratories is sophisticated and reliable.

The Thai Rice Packers Association has proposed to the Commerce Ministry in the past few months to bid for at least 300,000 tonnes of rice in the ministry’s stockpiles to be packed in plastic bags for retail sale.

The association is still waiting for the ministry’s reply on whether it would be allowed to join the bids.
(MCOT online news)
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Offline thaiga

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Re: Packed rice checked for contamination
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2013, 03:33:34 PM »
Pesticide Concern

Govt officials, consumer group testing for traces of methyl bromide, used to kill pests in govt stocks

Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong ordered food safety watchdogs yesterday to investigate if bags of rice were contaminated with the fumigant methyl bromide, an odourless and colourless gas used to control pests.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials and the Medical Sciences Department (MSD) have been told to collect 54 samples at random from bulk-packed rice, sold on the market, to study possible contamination as well as any effects of humidity.

Results of lab tests were expected to be known by Friday, Pradit said. But it was believed the public should face no health risk.

The quality of bulk-packed rice should be frequently monitored, Pradit said. However, bulk-packed rice was not listed as a food that needed to be controlled under the 1979 Food Act.

FDA secretary general Boonchai Somboonsook said his agency had teamed up with Medical Science officials to collect samples of rice last week. Most of the samples were randomly collected from big retail stores.

The agency would check for "contamination" of rice with methyl bromide, which is used to kill weevils and fungi, as well as hazardous substances and pesticides.

Contamination of rice products had not been reported as often as other products such as canned fish, which was why it was not listed as a controlled product under the Food Act.

"The FDA is now considering listing rice products as a 'controlled product' under the Food Act, as the agency would be able to monitor the food safety for this product," Boonchai said.

MSD director-general Niphon Popattanachai said his agency would release the results of lab tests for methyl bromide in the collected samples by Friday.

The Foundation for Consumers has also been studying possible contamination of rice with methyl bromide after collecting 35 samples from the market. The results of its lab tests are also expected by the end of this week.

The pesticide is widely used in rice storage and is able to decompose, but the amount used must not exceed standards set by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Joint FAO/World Health Organisation Food Standards Programme.

Agriculture Department chief Dumrong Jirasutas has accepted that substances including methyl bromide and phosphine are used to kill weevils and fungi in rice that has been kept in storage. But he said the two substances would not pose a risk for consumers, as they decompose in the air.

"These two substances have been accepted by the FAO and the FDA to use as pesticides to kill insects," he said.

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Offline thaiga

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Re: Stringent US checks pose image problem for Thailand
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2013, 01:47:06 PM »
A foreign news agency recently reported that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered stringent inspection of Thai rice imports in every container after a report that Thai rice had been put through fumigation that might harm consumers' health.

The Commerce Ministry, in cooperation with the Royal Thai Police, has sent a special taskforce to inspect rice warehouses in Ayutthaya and other provinces after finding rice stocks missing.

A Thai rice exporter said that the US alert is one of the biggest issues for rice trading in the past 20-30 years as it could affect Thai rice export growth and confidence among consumers.

"The US has never inspected Thai rice in every container. Its measure has affected confidence in Thai rice quality. The Thai government needs to clarify these doubts clearly to the public," said the source.

The US FDA has ordered every port such as in New York and Chicago to confine Thai rice for random inspection. If the agency finds Thai rice with problems such as contamination, fungus, mold, or over-fumigation five times, the importer would be ordered to refuse Thai rice from exporters.

The source said that such stringent inspection has created concern among American importers as well as Thai rice exporters. Importers could easily turn to order rice from other rice export countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president to the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said that normally there is hardly any contamination found in Thai rice shipments overseas. However, the stringent measure by the US, one of the major rice importers, could destroy the image of Thai rice.

Meanwhile, Thai farmers would continue to suffer from the government's decision to lower the rice pledging price from Bt15,000 per tonne to Bt12,000 per tonne as the National Rice Policy Committee (NRPC) meeting, scheduled to reconsider the matter, would be postponed following the likely change of commerce minister.

Vatchari Vimooktayon, permanent secretary to the ministry, said yesterday that the Cabinet reshuffle, including the commerce minister, who chairs the NRPC board, would delay the NRPC's reconsideration of the pledging price.

The NRPC, chaired by Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, was scheduled to meet today. The meeting has been rescheduled for June 30.

A group of farmers have urgently called on the government to reconsider its decision to lower the pledging price immediately.

As a result, the pledging price would be at Bt12, 000 a tonne. The new pledging price would be effective on June 30.

PM's Office Minister Niwat-Thamrong Bunsongphaisal is likely to replace Boonsong as the new commerce minister. Retired permanent secretary at the Commerce Ministry Yanyong Phuangrach would be deputy commerce minister.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Ministry's special taskforce, with cooperation from the Crime Suppression Division, acting against corruption and misconduct in the public sphere, undertook inspection of 2,000 warehouses nationwide and found rice missing from the government's stocks in many provinces. The provinces where stocks were missing were Chainart, Chiang Rai, Songkhla, and Phetchabun.

Vutthichai Duangratana, the ministry's inspector-general, said that the inspection team found no missing rice in Ayutthaya. However, if the ministry found missing stocks or unscrupulous practice, the ministry would urgently send a team for closer inspection and take the case to the police and the court.

Meanwhile, nationwide inspections have detected no significant irregularities in the stockpile from the rice-pledging scheme, according to the government.

A recent survey by Abac Poll showed that most people believe the rice-pledging scheme is mired in corruption. Even though rice mills and warehouses participating in the pledging scheme knew about the inspections in advance, many clearly could not ensure the right amount of rice.

At some places, the quantity of rice was thousands of tonnes lower than the registered one with their owners claiming that rains had damaged some of their paddies while they were being dried in the open.

The government carried out almost simultaneous inspections at about 2,100 rice mills and warehouses yesterday in the wake of growing public doubts that some entrepreneurs had secretly sold stockpiles or inflated the quantity of rice participating in the rice-pledging scheme.

Natthawut yesterday insisted that the inspections found no signs of corruption or embezzlement. He ruled out the possibility of rice millers using the same rice bulk to show to officials during inspections.

Officials from various agencies as well as police helped with yesterday's inspections.

In Nakhon Sawan, 246 rice mills and warehouses were inspected. Relevant authorities, however, could provide just a little over 150 officials for the inspections and many policemen clearly did not know how to calculate the amount of rice. In the end, they just photographed piles of rice sacks.

In Phetchabun, officials from the Marketing Organisation for Farmers led the inspections at many places. They lodged at least one embezzlement complaint against a rice miller with the Nong Phai Police Station.

According to the complaint, 4,000 tonnes of rice went missing from the Kaset Phon Charoen Rice Mill.

the nation

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Offline thaiga

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Re: Thai rice safe for consumption
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2013, 12:18:17 PM »
Random checks find Thai rice safe for consumption

BANGKOK, June 29 – The Public Health Ministry has given assurances that Thai rice is safe and free from chemical residue.

Dr Boonchai Somboonsook, secretary general of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said random inspections have been conducted at rice packaging locations since June 18.

Fifty-four rice samples were checked by the FDA and 33 samples by the Medical Sciences Department (MDF), and preliminary results said there was no residue from fumigation.

The amount of chemical residue, if detected, was in accordance with the standard set by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), he said.

Importers of Thai rice including Japan, the US and European countries follow the FAO standard.

MDF director general Niphon Popattanachai said 33 samples were collected from rice in plastic bags and sacks with lab tests finding the rice was chemical-free while the levels of yeast and fungus did not exceed regulated standard.

Thai rice is safe for consumption, he stressed. (MCOT online news)

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Re: Big C says its packed rice totally safe
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2013, 01:04:22 PM »
Given that they can't flog the stuff, what else would they say?

Offline thaiga

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Re: Farmers fret over excessive chemicals, low yields
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2013, 12:04:37 PM »
The interview with rice farmers in Pathum Thani seemed to be just another question-and-answer session from the beginning to the end. But just before the reporter's departure, Saibua Krupae, a former farmer, suddenly said: "I don't dare to eat our own rice nowadays."

He looked sad and his eyes did not hide his worries. He lowered his voice and said his fears were because he knew how many chemicals were being used to grow rice. At least seven kinds of fertiliser and pesticides are used with each crop.

Now 56, he quit his job as a farmer two years ago after having spent three decades in the field of agriculture. Saibua has passed on the mantle to his two sons, who rent 30 rai of land each to grow rice, as they only own 10 rai.

"My body cannot take it any more. It was I who sprayed pesticide [in the rice field] in the past," he said, adding he was critically hospitalised three times after spraying chemicals in three crop seasons.

He has now become a petrol retailer in the village at Moo 9, Tambon Beung Kham Proi in Lam Luk Ka district. He also does other odds jobs, such as a land broker.

The family buys rice from Surin for consumption, and only from trusted mill owners.

"They [in the Northeast] grow rice only once a year up there, and they use less chemicals," he said, adding he had been trying to convince his sons to use less chemicals while growing rice.

After the government announced the rice-pledging scheme with a price of Bt15,000 per tonne, land rent shot up to Bt1,500 per rai per season. Some landlords took 80-100 kilograms of rice paddy, up from 60-70kg in the past, he said.

Despite the hike in costs, farmers in his village were happy to pay the rent, but invest even more in chemicals with the hope of increasing productivity.

"Deserted land, no matter what it was before, has been turned into ricefields now," Narong Cheuncharoon, a former village chief, said.

"Productivity has been low lately. Since the flood [in 2011], the only crop that was productive was the crop right after the flood," Narong said. He added that he used to have a yield of one tonne of rice paddy but it has been as low as 400-500 kilograms per crop lately.

"It's been bad recently, every [farmers'] household faces the same problems. The soil gets no respite, and it is losing its fertility," he said.

His family grew rice on 20 rai of land and reaped 12 tonnes of rice paddy this crop compared to 18 to 20 tonnes in the past.

"This year is about breaking even. We invested almost Bt100,000 and sold rice for a little over Bt100,000," he said.

Yongyut Kuntaweethep, 70, retired kamnan of Beung Thonglang district, said productivity was constantly dropping. It used to be more than 600kg of rice paddy per rai 10 years ago. During the Abhisit Vejjajiva government it was 570 and now the official survey by the local agricultural officer shows 540kg per rai.

Deputy village chief Rewat Pienpeung said no one was willing to listen and take a break. They start a new crop as soon as they had sold rice from the previous crop.

Saibua, Narong and Rewat agreed that with the government's rice-pledging scheme, productivity is part of the indicator if farmers can make profit. If the productivity rate is low, they will have to bear the loss themselves. However, under the previous government's price guarantee scheme, their income would at least cover the cost as the figure would be calculated based on their farming area.

However, many farmers were not so honest and reported farming area bigger than the land on which they actually grew rice at that time, they said.

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Offline thaiga

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Re: Commerce to quickly dump rice
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2013, 12:59:23 AM »
New Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrach said the ministry plans to urgently sell four to five million tonnes of grain from the rice price pledging stockpile within three months.

Mr Yanyong was speaking as he and new Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan on Monday began their first day of work after being sworn into office by His Majesty the King on Sunday.

He was confident the ministry would be able to sell eight to 8.5 million tonnes of rice this year, as targetted.

Mr Yanyong, formerly a permanent commerce secretary, said the ministry has set an initial release price at US$500 per tonne, but admitted it remains flexible.

The preferred method would still be government-to-government deals, but the ministry would allow the private sector a bigger role in process.

The new commerce minister, Mr Niwatthamrong, said the government is committed to pursuing the rice pledging policy even though it has run into problems because of the excessive stockpile and lack of price competitiveness in the world market.

Also on his first day at work, Mr Niwatthamrong said his mission at the ministry is to release the government rice stockpile, estimated at 17 million tonnes, as quickly as possible.

The rice pledging policy is a hallmark policy of the Pheu Thai party. The government promised to buy "every single grain of rice" from farmers in Thailand at about 30% above market price in 2011 with the hope of cornering the world rice market and forcing up the price. It failed.

Mr Niwatthamrong admitted that Thai rice could not compete in the world market now because the government set the pledging prices too high - 15,000 baht per tonne for ordinary white rice and 20,000 baht per tonne for fragrant rice.

The global rice price has stayed around US$450, or 13,500 baht, for rice

"The rice pledging scheme must continue because it gives rice farmers a better income. Without the pledging project farmers would receive even less from the sale of their rice, because Vietnam is selling their rice at a very low price and India is exporting more," the new commerce minister said.

He would therefore aim at giving farmers the best pledging price possible while making sure that the price of Thai rice remains competitive on the world market.

"Thai rice won't sell on the global market if its price is too high," he said. "When we can't sell the rice, we run into the problem of excessive stockpiles, which causes many other downstream problems."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.