It’s harvest time in California’s rice fields, but this year one big player in the country’s second biggest rice producing state is reaping a lawsuit and a state health department investigation.
A 22-page legal filing accuses Farmers’ Rice Cooperative of four years worth of bad business practices that put buyers and consumers at risk by selling flush rice.
That’s rice that’s been bulked up with with unnatural ingredients and sold as premium varieties.
The claims are that it was labeled as the highest quality for human consumption when legally it was not.
Plaintiffs are also alleging that the rice was stored in such a way that insects, rodents and their soiling, bird remains and black mold could end up in the processed rice.
“Ninety-seven percent of the rice grown in the state is in the Sacramento valley, so it’s right in our backyard. We are world renown for our sushi rice,” said Jim Morris of the California Rice Commission.
And it’s in that sticky sushi rice where diners may have eaten up the mold and rat droppings alleged in the suit.
JinJu Sushi, doing business as the “I Love Teriyaki’ chai, is the lead plaintiff in this class action case along with a Sacramento customer of the restaurant and another Sacramentan.
The California Rice Commission educates the public about rice and represents all growers in the state.
It has not taken any complaint calls about this situation, and won’t comment on the legalities involved.
But, the commission does want to emphasize the industry’s good history in the golden state.
“California has a long track record of outstanding quality and safety when it comes to rice produced,” Morris said.
Representatives from Farmers’ Rice Cooperative would not comment on camera or via phone about the accusations, but did provide FOX40 with a written statement
saying quote “the recent claims…are absurd.”
The state health department would not discuss it’s probe into Farmers’ Rice Cooperative because it’s still in process.