Thodupuzha: The sale of adulterated rice is reportedly rampant in Kerala's Idukki district. Chemicals are allegedly added on to the white rice from Andhra Pradesh and sold as Kuthari (Kerala parboiled rice).
Sacks of rice that were brought to the Thodupuzha store the other day were found to be of low quality and sent back. However, chemicals were added to the same rice and were sent back to the state, it was suspected.
Three loads of rice had to be sent back this month due to poor quality. However, the depot officials have denied this.
Complaints are rife that the parboiled brought to the state for distribution is of low quality. The grains collected at the mills are turned into the rice and sold through the ration shops in the state. However, several mill owners are selling the parboiled rice under their own labels. And they distribute the low-quality parboiled rice mixed with coloured white rice from Andhra Pradesh.
The rice sold for free at ration shops in other states are being sneaked into Kerala. It is then treated with lethal chemicals to make it appear as parboiled rice and then sold at the ration shops in the state, it was said.
Though officials at the civil supplies have been assigned to check the quality of the rice, the checks are not being carried out effectively, it was alleged. One of the most common methods is to use red oxide to make white rice appear as parboiled rice.
Colours are also added to other variety of rice, such as Matta and Chambavari, too to make them look more appealing.
Rice from ration shops in Idukki's neighbouring Tamil Nadu districts such as Theni and Madura is sneaked into the district through the check posts. The rice from TN ration shops is taken to the mills in Palakkad and Angamaly in Kerala.
This rice is then treated with lethal chemicals, including red oxide, and then mixed with low-quality rice and taken to the ration shops.
Mill owners reap profit
The mill owners, who have taken the contract to collect the grains and distribute the rice, are allegedly supplying adulterated rice to the ration shops. The grains that are grown in the paddy fields of Kerala, meant to be distributed via ration shops, are bought by the mill owners. The grains are de-husked at the mills to get the rice, which is then sold as premier brands in the market. The left-over substandard rice and the white rice that has been coloured are mixed, and distributed to the ration shops.
As such rice is not edible, the common folks are forced to abandon the ration shops and head to other shops in the market. The mill owners can then further jack up the prices for high-quality rice and reap profits.
For this, they are getting ample help from civil supplies officials, who are regularly paid lakhs of rupees, it was pointed out.
The end result is ration shops in Kerala getting infested with adulterated rice.
If the adulterated rice is washed using hot water, you can see the colour getting separated from the rice. However, no matter how many it is washed, particles of the red oxide remain on the rice. The frequent consumption of this rice can lead to terminal diseases such as cancer.
Worms in rice?
Adimali: Complaints have been made that the rice procured from the ration shop at Korangatti tribal hamlet at Adimali is infested with worms and moths. These were found not just in various types of rice, but also in wheat. The situation has deteriorated to such levels that once the cereals are brought, the worms have to be removed even before they are taken into the homes.
No means to check?
The food safety officials have limitations in taking samples from the ration shops and checking the quality of the rice, it was said. Therefore, samples of none of the edible products are taken from the shops. Even if the samples were taken and adulteration was caught, no case is filed against the shop or mill owner, it was pointed out. This virtually gives the mill owners the green signal to continue with the malpractice.