MANILA - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is urging more Filipinos to try the so-called golden rice which tastes just like the ordinary white rice but with higher nutritional value.
Officials sampled the rice during a recent ceremonial tasting in Munoz, Nueva Ecija on Friday, led by the Crops Biotechnology Center (DA-CBC).
"It smells and tastes the same as ordinary rice, except it is colored yellow. But I will choose golden rice over white rice, because it has more health benefits," said DA Secretary William Dar in a statement.
Dar said even the Agriculture Attache from the United States, Ryan Bedford, prefers the taste 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 was quoted by DA officials.
In a DA report, Healthier Rice Project co-lead, Dr. Marissa Romero, said golden rice is indistinguishable in terms of taste, aroma, and texture from conventional rice varieties.
"We will use the favorable feedback from the ceremonial taste test and results from our previous sensory evaluation tests to promote golden rice to the consuming public," the report stated.
Dar said the feedbacks will be used by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to recommend golden rice, especially to those with high malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency, which is prevalent among children and those who are pregnant.
Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of preventable blindness, and contributes to stunting and malnutrition among children five years old and below.
It weakens the body's resistance to diseases and infections, and may even result in death if left untreated.
In the country, VAD incidence continues to be a significant public health issue, affecting nearly 17 percent, or two million children under the age of five, according to the 2018 Expanded National Nutrition Survey of the Department of Science and Technology - Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI).
"Beta carotene is also found in yellow-colored and green leafy vegetables. The increased consumption of golden rice by Filipino families would improve their dietary and nutritional requirements," Romero's report stated.
DOST-FNRI experts said one cup of cooked golden rice can provide 30 to 50 percent of the estimated average requirement of Vitamin A of pre-schoolers and those who are pregnant and lactating. (PNA)