LITTLE ROCK, AR – Yesterday, Arkansas Rice Federation Executive Director Lauren Waldrip Ward testified before the Arkansas Joint Senate and House Committee on Agriculture on the industry's concern of a current food trend where vegetables are being "riced" and marketed as a "more healthy" form of rice.
Marketing campaigns are identifying these products as "riced vegetables" while some companies are marketing vegetables and other non-rice products as rice. These products often are stocked on grocery shelves alongside rice.
Ward explained many of the products, including Cauli Rice, Miracle Rice, Better than Rice, and Green Giant's Cauliflower Fried Rice do not contain a single grain of rice. Through packaging designed and displayed to mislead and with advertisements reading "Move over, rice,” companies are likely causing confusion among consumers.
There is currently not an FDA Standard of Identity for rice, but Arkansas Rice and USA Rice agree with the existing Codex definition, which simply identifies rice as originating from the Oryza sativa L. plant.
"Our industry has made significant investments developing and building the brand we have for rice,” said Ward. “These companies have made it clear that they intend to capitalize on that very brand. Our farmers are proud of the quality associated with the rice they grow and we must continue to preserve that image while also protecting consumers."
Ward continued, "Consumers have a right to know honestly and transparently what they are purchasing and these fake rice products are designed to mislead them. Consumers who want to purchase rice are being tricked into buying something other than rice. Rice is a grain, not a shape."
Committee members inquired about actions being taken at the federal level by the Food and Drug Administration and expressed strong interest in supporting those efforts.
"We'll do whatever is necessary to combat this issue," said State Senator Blake Johnson. "I would like to begin working with Arkansas Rice to develop a resolution addressing rice pretenders and protecting consumers' rights."