ARLINGTON, Va. — Viet Nam, one of the largest producers and exporters of rice in the world, and one that comes under frequent suspicion of violating World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations, is under new scrutiny for violating U.S. food safety regulations. Between January and August of this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected 95 shipping containers of jasmine rice and rice products from Viet Nam citing illegal pesticide residue in all but one of the cases.
“Having a safe and abundant food supply is something Americans expect, but can also take for granted, so hats off to the FDA for testing these imports and rejecting this adulterated rice,” said Betsy Ward, president and CEO of USA Rice, a trade group representing the U.S. rice industry. “The good news for U.S. consumers is twofold. First, this dangerous rice has been turned away, and second, U.S. rice farmers sustainably grow jasmine rice right here in the United States.”
For the three marketing years from 2013-2015, rice imports from Viet Nam have averaged more than 63,500 metric tons with annual value of more than $33 million. Rice imports from Viet Nam for the 2016 marketing year, which concluded in July and include this most recent period of rice shipment rejections, were just over 35,600 metric tons with a value of almost $21 million.
“We are, frankly, happy with the disruption,” Ward said. “There is no need to import jasmine rice from more than 11,000 miles away when we grow it here. Especially if the imported rice is not up to U.S. safety standards.”
It is unclear what happened to the shipments of adulterated rice the U.S. rejected. Rarely are exporters willing to bring the rejected product all the way back home. These shipments usually make their way to other nearby markets, in this case possibly Mexico.
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