BANGKOK – Rumors about spoiled and contaminated rice triggered by Facebook comments of a Thai TV host Suttipong Thamawuit have caused an uproar from Thai rice packers and Thai authorities.
Thailand’s leading rice packer has lodged a complaint against a Bangkok television host for allegedly spreading false claims via Facebook that its rice was contaminated.
The move came after Suttipong Thammawut, TV host and managing director of TV Burabha Co., Ltd, posted a message on his Facebook page that Royal Umbrella brand rice contains contaminants and is under standard.
Sumeth Laomoraporn, chief executive officer of CP Group’s International Trading Business Group for manufacturing and distributing its brand Royal Umbrella Rice, filed a defamation lawsuit against Suttipong Thammawut on Thursday.
Sumeth said Suttipong’s act discredited his company, so he filed a complaint against him for defamation and spread false information on computer system.
The CP executive said the message was already shared to the media, adding that Sutthipong’s claims were untrue and caused both Thai and foreign consumers to lose confidence in the quality of Royal Umbrella brand rice.
Royal Umbrella rice is pure and has no contaminants, he affirmed.
Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Puangrat revealed Friday that the ministry is also considering taking legal action against Suttipong for spreading false information that caused panic among Thai rice consumers and their losing confidence in the rice. The ministry has also requested the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology to block such comments.
Meanwhile, the TV host admitted his mistake in posting the message on his Facebook page. He said he had no ill intention and that his action had nothing to do with politics.
“The message was widely shared and I got it from Line application. I just copied and posted it on Facebook.”
He said the message was previously shared by someone else, and he only added it to share on his Facebook, he said.
His intention was only his concerns for the safety of rice consumers and was to create fairness to the private sector alleged so that it could clarify the matter to the public.
The TV host said he felt uncomfortable for having been misunderstood.
After the rumors of spoiled rice broke out, Thailand’s Department of Medical Science (DMS) under the Health Ministry on Friday assured consumers that packed rice is safe for consumption and it meet the standard of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
DMS Director Diphon Phopantachai said Friday that the department conducted a random check of 54 different brands of packed price sold in markets. The result showed that the rice is safe and is not contaminated.