Since the beginning of May this year, social networks across Africa and its Diaspora have been saturated with photos and videos showing horrified people demonstrating the presence of plastic in food items, like rice and eggs. Yet most of these videos don’t have a grain of truth (or plastic) in them. Alexandre Capron, a French journalist and member of the Observer Team of France24 (OTF), has looked into the origins of these conspiracy theories and how their propagation has led to calls for increased protectionism and conflated nationalism in different countries across the continent. This article is the first in a two-part series in which Capron takes a look at three popular videos and show how they seek to manipulate viewers into believing this plastic rice conspiracy. For the past month, videos purporting to show rice made out of plastic have been circulating on social media in numerous African countries including Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Gambia. Some of these videos seem to show these food items being manufactured. In other videos, people film themselves performing tests on suspicious food items to show that they are really made of plastic. The Observers team has identified at least 16 different videos about plastic rice that have surfaced online in the past five weeks. However, some of them are easy to recognize as hoaxes. We take a closer look at three videos debunked by our team.
Proof that plastic rice is being manufactured? No, just plastic pellets
Rice that burns? Yes, it’s possible
Rice that bounces? Nothing out of the ordinary!
“At our institute, we carried out tests on rice that people in Senegal had flagged as suspicious. Our results showed that the rice that people thought was made out of plastic was actually just old rice — rice that was more than two years old. Other tests proved that there was absolutely no plastic in this rice. So, why does it bounce? In fact, the starch in rice contains two components: amylose, which makes rice tough and hard, and amylopectin, which makes it sticky. However, when rice is more than a few years old, the amylose diminishes and amylopectin increases. When we heat up the rice, it becomes very sticky and, when it dries, it becomes extremely condensed. So it’s not surprising that it bounces when you throw it on the ground.”If you want to know more about where the rumours about plastic rice came from and understand why these videos have become so popular on social media across Africa, check out the second part of our investigation, coming soon. Source: theafricancourier.de]]>