LAGOS, Nigeria, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Nigeria's food safety agency is performing chemical tests on bags of imported rice after some government officials said it was made of plastic.
Customs officials said they confiscated 102 sacks, each containing 55 pounds of rice. Their origin is unclear, but fake rice made of plastic pellets was found in China in 2015. The National Agency for Food and Drugs, Nigeria's food safety agency, said it was performing chemical and biological analyses on samples of the rice. It denied a comment Thursday by Health Minister Isaac Adewole that the agency found "no evidence" of plastic material.
Haruna Mamudu, chief of customs in the capital, Lagos, said the rice was intended to be sold in Nigeria during the holiday season. His own non-scientific assessment was that the rice was sticky after it was boiled, and "only God knows what would have happened" if people ingested it. Other customs officials said the cooked rice had an odd odor.
Adewole said on social media, after being briefed by Nafdac officials, that "preliminary test results reveal there is no evidence backing claims [of plastic material]."
Although Mamuda called for calm, and there are no reports of the suspicious rice being sold to consumers in Nigeria, citizens are worried. Several media reports highlighted the danger of fake food, especially food imported from China. Another customs official suggested the rice was legitimate and edible, but of a variety unfamiliar to Nigerians, the BBC reported Friday.