Thai rice safe for consumption, experts say

THAILAND - After doubts about the quality of Thai rice spread like wildfire on social media, experts and academics yesterday insisted that Thai rice was safe for human consumption.

"Processors need to fumigate rice products as they will take a long time to be shipped to another country, but the fumigation complies with international standards," said Laddawan Kunnoot, deputy director general of the Rice Department.

Most packed rice manufacturers follow international practices in using methyl bromide to fumigate rice for export.

Most farmers use chemical fertilisers only in the first two months of cultivation, so there is no contamination of agricultural chemicals in the harvesting process.

During the post-harvesting process, insecticide will be sprayed to kill rice-eating bugs and then the fumigant will be dispersed into the air in five to seven days.

Asst Prof Warapa Mahakarn-chanakul of Kasetsart University's Agro-Industry Faculty said micro-organisms and fungus, caused by humidity, in rice products are more dangerous for consumers than methyl bromide.

"Some fungi can produce toxins and cause cancer," she said.

In a test for fungi in brown rice, conducted on 240 samples from 20 provinces nationwide from 2011-12 after the massive flood, only one sample was found tainted.