Import surveyors urged to test China rice shipments for cadmium
MANILA, Philippines-Import surveyors have been advised to enable themselves to test rice shipments from China for excessive levels of the poisonous chemical cadmium and bar the entry of these cargoes if found positive, according to the National Food Authority.
The Department of Agriculture earlier this month raised the alarm on the matter, citing the international rice industry newsletter Oryza.com which reported that a high level of cadmium was detected in rice served in restaurants in Southern China.
Even then, the NFA’s oversight committee on the minimum access volume-country specific quota (MAV-CSQ) said no importer has expressed intent to bring in shipments from the mainland.
Based on standing trade agreements with Beijing, the Philippines is committed to allow as much as 25,000 metric tons of rice from China this year.
Joseph Y. de la Cruz, chair of the MAV-CSQ committee, said in a letter to NFA Administrator Orlan A. Calayag that accredited surveyors are requested to “not allow entry (of) and must have technical know-how to detect the incidence and presence of cadmium on rice to be imported from China.”
Dela Cruz added that as of May 23, “there are no applicants that have filed a letter of intent to source” rice from China.
In a memorandum dated May 20 and citing the industry report, Assistant Secretary Dante S. Delima – who coordinates the National Rice Program – warned that the Food and Drug Administration of Guangzhou City found excessive levels of cadmium in 44 percent of rice samples taken from different restaurants and food outlets in the city.
The report also said that cadmium poisoning can cause problems in digestion, respiration and bone strength. Excessive cadmium content of rice may have resulted from industrial waste and the use of chemicals in rice cultivation.
Delima called for “renewed vigilance, strengthened monitoring, and the necessary precautionary measures taken be taken by all concerned agencies and sectors” amid such concern.
Last week, Bureau of Plant Industry Director Clarito M. Barron said the BPI it is not conducting cadmium tests because it does not have the needed equipment.
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