By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor
The war over rice, more recently the wholesomeness of locally-produced rice, continues between businessman Jack Charles and relevant government departments; and for persistently suggesting that the rice is tainted, the Chamber of Commerce has condemned Charles’ actions.
Charles said, in his latest press release, in responding to the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS), which denied that local rice contains harmful levels of Aflatoxin, that even if the levels of the cancer-causing agent are low, repeated exposure to low or even very low doses of the chemical are the most worrying, since on average, Belizeans eat around 10 pounds of rice per month.
Meanwhile, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has condemned Charles’ claims, saying they are baseless and are intended to have a negative effect on the economy and among consumers. It adds that the Food and Drug Association (FDA) and other food agencies have set the limits for Aflatoxin in all foods, within which the levels fall well within acceptable means.
The BCCI release states in part that, “issuing such an inflammatory report on the rice industry is irresponsible and clearly intended to force an opening for rice importation.”
Charles, who has been trying to import rice from Guayana to sell in Belize, questions how much attention the BBS has given over the last five years to testing the foods that Belizeans consume.
He adds that his concern is the wholesomeness of the foods that Belizeans consume and has offered to pay for the sample testing of any food item that any non-government or member of civil society would want done.