Rice products lacking in rice: survey

LABELING LIABILITY::The inspection of rice products found that 11 of the items that did not meet protein-level standards contained traces of ‘unknown’ starches

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Apr 02, 2013 - Page 4

Popular rice-based products, such as turnip cakes, glutinous rice balls and mochi, might contain less of the grain than their labels suggest, test results released by two consumers’ rights organizations showed yesterday.

Among the 29 samples of rice and glutinous rice flour from different millers and traders tested, 11 were found to contain a lower volume of rice than stated on their labels, according to the results of a joint inspection conducted by the Consumers’ Foundation and the News and Market online news service in late January.

Regulations state that pure rice flour should have a protein content of 7 percent per portion, but allow a 20 percent margin of error, which sets the minimum protein level at 5 percent. However, the report showed that the protein content of the 11 substandard samples was between 0.5g and 5g per 100 grams, beneath the minimum level.

Four samples were even found to contain less than 2 percent protein, the foundation said.

Moreover, the New Taipei City (新北市)-based China Grain Products Research and Development Institute found that the 11 rice-based products also contained “unknown starches,” the news service said.

The news site urged the producers of the items to reveal what the starch is to clarify if it is a type of chemical food additive.

Some people are allergic to certain types of starches, which is why it is important for the producers to identify the unknown substance in the 11 products, said a spokesman for the Greater Taichung-based news site, which focuses on issues concerning agriculture, food and the environment.

The Consumers’ Foundation said that the samples were collected from traditional markets, shopping malls, supermarkets, wholesale baking supply stores and shopping Web sites in Taipei, New Taipei City and Greater Tainan.

It was the second such investigation conducted by the organizations this year.

In January, they released a report showing that nearly 90 percent of rice noodle products sold in supermarkets do not contain as much rice as their makers claim on the product labels, with 45 out of the 52 vermicelli brands tested discovered to contain less than 50 percent rice — the minimum standard for rice noodles.