Manila, Philippines – Rice is the main staple food of the Filipinos. It is estimated that each household eats an average of almost 500 kilograms of rice per year. While Philippine farms produce rice quite extensively, the country often resorts to rice importation to supplement local demand.
It is therefore not surprising that Filipinos are alarmed at recent reports and studies showing the presence of arsenic (poison chemical) in rice and rice products. (See latest article from The New York Times).
To appease the growing anxiety among the population over arsenic-tainted rice, Philippine lawmakers have moved quickly to make pan de sal the new national staple in place of rice. The wheat-based delicacy is the Filipinos’ choice of breakfast bread or dinner roll.
While lawmakers realize that their action will cost the country millions of pesos in wheat importation, they said that the health and safety of the citizens are of greater concern. Wheat is not produced locally and the Philippines imports 100% of its wheat and flour requirements. The Philippines is one of the top destinations for U.S. wheat exports.
The lawmakers are confident that the Filipino people will adjust easily to the change in staple from rice to pan de sal because the latter goes well with many Filipino dishes like adobo, pancit, dinuguan, menudo and queso de bola.