The Department of Agriculture (DA) is encouraging more Filipinos to sample golden rice, which tastes similar to regular white rice but has a better nutritional value. Dr. Marissa Romero, co-lead of the Healthier Rice Project, stated in a DA report that golden rice is indistinguishable from regular rice types in terms of flavor, scent, and texture.
Sponsored by the Crops Biotechnology Center (DA-CBC), DA hosted a ceremonial tasting in Muoz, Nueva Ecija where officials taste-tested the golden rice.
DA Secretary William Dar announced in a statement, “It smells and tastes exactly like regular rice, only it’s yellow. However, I prefer golden rice over white rice since it has greater health advantages”. Additionally, Dar claims that even the United States’ Agriculture Attaché, Ryan Bedford, enjoys the flavor of the healthier rice alternative.
“I couldn’t help myself and I ate all of it. It is great. I am a fan, I will feed it to my two daughters,” Bedford stated, as DA officials quoted.
According to the report, the department will be leveraging the positive feedback from the ceremonial taste test as well as the findings of the prior sensory assessment studies to promote golden rice to the eating public.
Dar stated that the data and inputs gathered would be utilized by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to advocate golden rice, particularly to those suffering from malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency, which is common in youngsters and pregnant women.
According to the 2018 Expanded National Nutrition Survey of the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), Vitamin A deficiency prevalence remains a serious public health concern in the country, impacting approximately 17 percent of the nation’s children under the age of five.
DOST-FNRI scientists claim that one cup of cooked golden rice can offer up to 50 percent of the estimated average Vitamin A needs of pre-schoolers, pregnant women, and lactating women.
Vitamin A deficiency is the greatest cause of avoidable blindness in children aged five and under, and it leads to stunted growth and malnutrition. If left untreated, the deficiency will decrease the body’s resilience to illnesses and infections. Severe vitamin A deficiency may even end in death.
Dr. Marissa Romero’s analysis concluded that beta carotene is also abundant in yellow-colored and green leafy vegetables, and increasing intake of golden rice by Filipino families will enhance their dietary and nutritional requirements.