Basmati rice is now victim to a food fraud, following a price hike in raw materials. The scandal came to light in February, when 22 tonnes of long-grain rice being sold as basmati were seized in the UK by Interpol and Europol. In response, the rice industry has been stepping up measures and some major companies have just introduced DNA testing.
The scandal in the rice industry includes two types of food fraud: stating white long-grain rice as basmati in order to avoid import duty, and blending basmati with long-grain and passing it off as basmati. Rice blending is a cheap trick, but suppliers who declare rice as pure basmati when it is in fact blended with other grains face anti-fraud measures. To legally be called basmati, the rice must have been grown in specific regions of India and Pakistan. There is no duty on brown basmati, whereas import duty for other rice grains can be as much as €150 a tonne.
The Rice Association, the FSA and BRC have all agreed on crack down rules when it comes to rice blending. The 2006 voluntary code of practice states that non-basmati content in a product labelled basmati rice should be no higher than 7%. With this in mind, suppliers are going further to prove their compliance. Major rice companies such as Tilda and Amira have started to implement DNA testing to ensure its purity. Prior to shipping, Tilda tests every batch of rice in its own lab to prove the origin of the grain.
Taking these voluntary steps at the supplier end is a great way to execute compliance and send a message to food fraudsters. Here at QADEX we think this is a fantastic example of honest, trustworthy suppliers going the extra mile to assure retailers, wholesalers and consumers that their produce is compliant. You can’t always trust what it says on the tin anymore – proven by the amount of food fraud cases highlighted over the last few years. DNA testing is a scientific, proven way to dictate the origin or variety of a product, which could be incorporated to many different sectors.
For manufacturers, processors or retailers who don’t trust their suppliers 100%, we recommend installing our supplier approval module.