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Government Debunks Claims of Local Rice Having Cancer Causing Agents

Alleged claim of aflatoxin in locally produced rice – The Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS) in consultation with the Belize Agricultural Health Authority and the Ministry of Health, hereby submits a response on the alleged claim of aflatoxins in local rice as issued in a press release dated February 10, 2016, by rice importer Mr. Jack Charles of Extra House.

In a press release, Jack Charles cited tests conducted by an American laboratory indicating that sampled local brands of rice in Belize (Circle R and Tropic) are not safe to consume because they contain low levels of aflatoxins that are cancer causing agents known to kill large numbers of people when consumed in excess causing damage to the liver, lungs, kidneys, brain and heart. Charles had forwarded his results to the Bureau of Standards, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) and Ministry of Agriculture on February 1, 2016.

In its release, the BBS stated: “In the first instance, the Bureau would like to categorically state that Mr. Charles is not recognized as a competent authority to conduct testing of any basic food item in Belize. Notwithstanding this claim, the Bureau in collaboration with the competent authorities aforementioned concluded that the test results provided on February 1, 2016, by Mr. Jack Charles shows that none of the rice samples analyzed contain detectable levels of aflatoxins and as a result does not pose any threat to human health.

The Bureau and the Government is committed to ensuring food safety and health in Belize and categorically rejects any suggestion that they are not so committed. It is regrettable that the commercial interests of one individual, veiled under the guise of food safety concerns, is being used in an attempt to erode the confidence in food safety which the people of Belize now enjoy.”  

The Bureau reiterated its commitment to the people of Belize to maintain its vigilance and to prevent access to the market place of goods which are likely to be a danger to the health or safety of consumers.

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