Producers happy that contaminated rice was spotted

Rice producers here are expressing their pleasure that the health ministry ordered 10,000 tons of imported rice destroyed.

The Ministerio de Salud said that a dangerous fungus infected some of the rice. The loss to two local companies, Pelón and DEMASA, is estimated at $35 million.

A test of part of the rice showed levels of aflatoxins higher than permitted. The toxins can cause cancer. They can occur naturally in rice and other grains particularly when there is excess humidity.
The health ministry said that the rice must be burned.

The rice came from the United States, according to the Asamblea Nacional de Productores de Arroz, which also said the rice was imported under the free trtade treaty with that country.

Rice producers are sensitive about imported rice because they usually receive prices higher than the world price for their products.

The rice producers called the decision to burn the rice a triumph for their organization, which had brought official attention to the rice.

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