Customs officers are looking into suspicions raised by Shau Kei Wan residents that a roadside seller who has been touting his wares for three years is offering counterfeit Thai rice.
It feels like fake food, residents of Yiu Tung Estate say, because the grains never seem to be fully cooked and the colour is inconsistent with the same Thai brand sold at much higher prices in supermarkets.
The product also appeared suspect because insiders in the rice retail trade said the Thai brand did not offer it in 25kg packs, according to Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing, who helped the residents lodge a report with customs.
"Some of the grains look whiter than others within the same pack," Wong noted yesterday. "Both the smell and the taste differ from the genuine product."
The 25kg packs were being offered from a truck that started selling foodstuffs three years ago, though the problematic product did not emerge until this year, the residents said.
The truck driver sold it for HK$320, though Wong said that quantity of rice would normally cost HK$70 more.
In response to the complaint, a spokesman for the Customs and Excise Department said it would contact the brand owner.
Yiu Tung residents spoke up over the rice after last month's unprecedented revelation that vendors in the city were selling counterfeit oranges.
Customs officers seized from two Yuen Long stalls 5,200 oranges that bore Sunkist labels suspected to be forged. A customer had complained the fruit tasted sourer than the real thing and had thicker skin.
In the last case of counterfeit fruit, more than 130 boxes of watermelons were seized in 2011. The fruit had been passed off as Malaysian imports when it was in fact from mainland China.