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Poison rice

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“It isn’t convenient to write down all the ingredients,” explains the imperial official. Cadmium billows out of the bag of rice he guards.
毒大米 (dú dàmǐ): poison rice

Rice that has been treated with toxic chemicals to increase its marketability. Old rice (陈米 chén mǐ) that has been stored for over a year is polished, treated with chemicals, and coated with paraffin, giving the grains a translucent appearance. The treated rice can cause negative health effects.

“Poison rice” became an online watchword in May 2013 with a scare over rice that had been tainted with the toxic heavy metal cadmium (镉 gé).

Food safety scandals repeatedly pop up in China, creating a general unease about products like cooking oil, infant formula, and fast food. A list of 50 “Toxic Foods You Need to Know” from 2008 covers an unnerving range of products.

See also ditch oil and poison milk powder.

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