Currently, the world makes and consumes about 600 billion pounds of plastic yearly, in a market that is growing at about 5% a year. However, scammers in Nigeria are taking the word “consuming” much too seriously.
The Nigerian government seized 2.5 metric tons of rice, which they believed to actually have been made of plastic, over the holiday season. Customs officials found 102 bags of rice branded under the name Best Tomato Rice after a person who was trying to prepare the so-called food item noticed a strange consistency while cooking.
The customs workers are unsure where the rice originated, and Mamudu Haruna, comptroller of the Federal Operations Unit, believes the Nigerian people have been victims of economic saboteurs who were looking to profit off people searching for a bargain during the holidays.
Kikelomo Adediti was one customer who purchased the rice, and was originally drawn in to Best Tomato Rice because its price was significantly lower than others. However, she didn’t think much of the weird situation until she was notified by government officials. She describes her experience to CNN.
“It looked perfectly normal and cost less [than regular rice] so I thought I got a great deal. Normally it would take about 20 minutes [to cook] but after 30 minutes it was still hard. I added more water and the aroma was chemical in nature so I decided to discard it thinking it had expired.”
New reports now show that even though the rice was not plastic, it was contaminated with plenty of harmful substances. Of those microorganisms, e-coli, coli form, and mold were present.
Nigeria has the largest market for imported rice in Africa because their nationwide production cannot meet up with the increasing demand. Custom officials believe this rice scam was a direct attack on Nigerian merchants, and have put intense sanctions on all imported food since the rice was acquired.
A total of 221 bags are said to have been sent to Nigeria, but only 102 have been recovered.