The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Police have said they have halted an investigation into rice that had been claimed to contain dangerous plastics, as laboratory results had shown the rice samples contained no such materials.
Jakarta Police special crime director Sr. Comr. Mujiyono said on Monday that based on an examination conducted by the National Police central forensics laboratory (Puslabfor), the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM), and the Agriculture Ministry's research and development unit (Balitbang), the police had concluded that the allegations were erroneous.
'After a series of investigations triggered by a report on the sale of rice containing plastic materials by Bekasi resident Dewi Septiani, we have halted our probe into the case,' Mujiyono said, adding that the investigation also included samples of Dewi's leftover porridge and her vomit.
In May, Dewi ' a rice porridge seller ' uploaded pictures of the alleged fake rice on social media and sent an email to the BPOM after she was unable to turn 6 liters of rice she had just bought into porridge. She said that the rice only expanded and did not soften as usual.
She also reported the case to the Bantar Gebang Police in Bekasi, West Java.
The police then shut down a store at Mutiara Gading Market, East Bekasi, where Dewi had bought the rice. They also confiscated several sacks of rice to be tested, as well as questioning the seller and his four employees.
In May, state-owned survey company Sucofindo confirmed that rice samples taken from the Bekasi store contained polyvinyl chloride (PVC) usually found in plastic pipes, as well as a plasticizer chemical substance usually found in hydraulic tools and electric capacitors. It announced that the substances could cause kidney, liver, lung problems and cancer if consumed.
Nonetheless, the government countered the statement some days later, announcing that a round of official laboratory tests by the BPOM, the Trade Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry had found no plastic substances in the rice samples, which were suspected to have been imported from China.
At Monday's press conference, Puslabfor chemistry and biology division representative Sr. Comr Sabran Subandi said that the report also unsettled many other Bekasi residents and the Bekasi police had received many reports regarding artificial rice.
This public concern spread nationwide with residents of Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta; Jayapura, Papua; and Medan, North Sumatra, also reporting to have found plastic rice in their areas.
According to him, people had reported their suspicions when they felt sick after consuming the rice.
He said that the police immediately took action on the reports by testing samples of rice in the areas where complaints were made. They did not find any plastic substances in the samples.
He added that the samples tested were no different to any other rice on the market.
'As we all know, many people get sick every day. After Dewi's report, cases of sick people seemed to be automatically connected to plastic rice,' Sabran said. 'However, they could have been sick for many other reasons.'
On the same occasion, Mujiyono told reporters about the police's next action regarding the matter.
He said that despite halting Dewi's artificial rice case, the police would continue investigating to determine who had spread the hoax about the rice, which was eventually found to be from Indramayu, West Java, not China.
He said that the police had questioned 32 witnesses in relation to the hoax. (agn)
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