New DelhiFlooded with queries from citizens about ‘plastic rice’ being sold in markets, the Delhi government’s food safety department has negated such rumours after conducting random checks.“We had collected at least 27 samples – 20 raw samples from the markets and seven cooked rice samples from various hotels and restaurants — from across the city. None proved to be plastic rice. It is fake news,” Mrinalini Darswal commissioner of the state food safety department told HT.Rumours about plastic rice have been making rounds and spreading like wildfire over the past few days. It all started when customer complained that plastic rice was used to prepare biryani in Hyderabad. The news not only grabbed media headlines but also became viral on social media as wheat and paddy forms the staple diet of Indians. “We have been receiving calls from wary customers across Delhi. Such rumours were also spreading across the social media. Earlier this month we received a grievance letter from a person. It was then we decided to go for a random check,” said a food safety officer of the department.The samples were checked in the food laboratory of the department of food safety. All the samples complied with the specification under regulation no 184.108.40.206 of the Food Products Standards and Food Additives Regulation Act 2011 which defines the standards of rice in India. “Only four samples were found to be misbranded due to labelling violations and one sample of cooked rice was found to be unsafe as it contained some bacteria,” said Darswal. Environment right activist Vikrant Tongad who had shot the grievance letter to the food safety department said the panic about plastic rice being imported from China and flooding the markets were making rounds in social media. “It was unlikely that plastic rice would be imported to India as it costs much more than normal paddy. Secondly India produces enough paddy and doesn’t need to import rice from China. But as news of plastic rice were also surfacing from other countries I decided to inform the food safety department,” said Tongad.Sources said that the concept of plastic rice first surfaced around seven years back in China. It was popularly known as the Wuchang Rice Scandal. It was said to be made out of sweet potatoes and synthetic resin moulded into the shape of real rice. In 2016 Nigerian authorities claimed to have seized around 2.5 tons of plastic rice.