Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu said today that the government will take samples of rice from warehouses and supermarkets across the country for chemical analysis.
He said this would be carried out through an integrated operation aimed at conducting a comprehensive inspection of the industry chain.
"The government will take strict action against any party found to be substituting rice, mixing local white rice with imported white rice, or hoarding rice," he said at a press conference.
The inspection involves several agencies, including the Padi and Rice Regulatory Agency, the domestic trade and cost of living ministry, the police, the customs department, and the Malaysian Department of Quarantine and Inspection Services, and will be led by Deputy Agriculture and Food Security Minister Chan Foong Hin.
This came after a video from a warehouse claiming that irresponsible parties were attempting to switch local rice sacks with imported ones went viral.
Mohamad said this was one of the four additional interventions unveiled following his meeting with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim over the shortage of local white rice.
He added that other measures include directing the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) to increase the distribution of the food staple to rural areas.
"As the profit margin for local rice is only RM0.50, the government will channel the transportation costs to Fama," Mohamad said.
To address the issue in Sabah and Sarawak, Mohamad said the government will provide a subsidy of RM950 per metric tonne of imported white rice starting this month.
Mohamad, meanwhile, urged the public not to engage in panic buying of rice.