BANGKOK – Thai rice traders have offered Bt20 million in compensation for any consumer killed by methyl bromide in packaged rice – an attempt to restore confidence in the safety of locally-produced grains.
The Thai Rice Packers Association (TRPA) has cooperated with 128 companies producing more than 800 brands of packaged rice to organise quarterly lab tests, starting August 1.
The lab tests will be conducted for a year to ensure safety of Thai packaged rice amid public concern on excessive chemical use to control insect infestation.
The Foundation for Consumers recently reported chemical residues in some brands of packaged rice while the Commerce Ministry which is encountering problem of oversupply of rice in its stocks called on the public to be calm and gave assurances that packaged rice in Thailand is safe to eat.
TRPA chairman Somkiat Makyathorn said he believed the lab tests and proposed compensation of Bt20 million would revive consumer confidence in the quality and safety of Thai packaged rice.
He said the TRPA’s original target for a 5 per cent sales growth of packaged rice, at a total value of Bt30 billion, for this year will remain unchanged.
He admitted that the sales volume of packaged rice has decreased in the last two months with one household purchasing only two bags on average instead of the average three to five bags.
Consumers’ confidence in overseas markets remains unaffected, he said.
Starting January 1 next year, the Thai Food and Drug Administration requires Thai rice traders to have their products checked under the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) to ensure quality, he said.
Mr Somkiat said packaged rice trader of Coco brand has recalled its product from the market after it was found to contain excessive chemical residues.