JAMAICA'S Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division (FSPID) has confiscated approximately 1,500 metric tonnes of paddy rice in which the dried-out carcasses of rodents and frogs were found.
The rice, which is valued at approximately $15 million, was imported from the United States by a local distributor.
Paddy rice is the unshelled form of the cereal, which is usually imported for further processing to make white rice, for distribution into the local commercial trade.
Senior food storage scientist at the FSPID, Tamara Morrison said that the rice was seized after a ship in which it was being transported, that docked at the Kingston Pier, was inspected by the department's food storage inspector.
Morrison said the frog and rodent carcasses were confirmed following tests by the FSPID's Rodent Biology and Control Laboratory.
"Our observations would suggest that the carcasses got into the commodity prior to loading of the ship. This suggests that it was stored under unsanitary conditions," said Morrison, who also heads the agency's Training and Information Unit.
She said that the matter was discussed extensively with the consignee and a disposal notice served, accordingly.
Arrangements were made for the rice to be returned to the United States, she said, as "Jamaica does not have the facilities to handle such a large volume for disposal".
The seizure, she said, is the first such since the start of the year.
Last year, approximately one metric tonne of white rice was confiscated and ordered disposed by the FSPID after it was deemed unfit for consumption.
The FSPID is the regulatory department within the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, with responsibility for ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of food entering commerce.