Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Vigilance needed in safeguarding public health

Published:Thursday | December 15, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The Minister of Commerce, Karl Samuda, in a story carried in the newscasts on CVM TV AND TVJ on December 13, declared that there has been no evidence adduced from the investigations so far to substantiate the public assertions and the health scare that plastic rice may have entered the marketplace.

Samuda said that, as a result of the lack of evidence, the temporary ban on rice that was placed on the clearance at all ports of entry on December 12 has been lifted forthwith.

While I appreciate that there was some initiative by the Government in ensuring that the consuming public is not at risk, and that there could be no justification for keeping the ban in place devoid of cogent evidence, especially in the Christmas season where rice is widely consumed, the investigations still need to go further.

Considering that plastic rice has been produced in countries such as China and Vietnam, as evidenced in YouTube videos, it certainly does not completely assuage the public concerns, whether real or imagined, that the possibility of plastic rice being on our supermarket and shop shelves exists.

We expect that a comprehensive investigation will be pursued in determining whether unscrupulous persons have managed to import plastic rice into the country by alternate means.

I found it interesting that the Manchester woman in the 22-second-long video that circulated on social media, and which TVJ subsequently aired in a story on December 11, was not so inclined to indicate where she had actually purchased the rice which she described as plastic or even used her initiative to formally complain to the authorities as a matter of public concern.

The citizens and authorities alike must be vigilant and leave no stones unturned in determining whether such a threat exists and to ensure that the public health is safeguarded.