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State health department confirms investigation into Sacramento rice cooperative

The California Department of Public Health confirmed Friday it is investigating allegations that the Sacramento-based Farmer’s Rice Cooperative may have sold sub-premium and potentially unsanitary rice as premium grade rice.

“The CDPH is currently conducting an investigation into allegations against Farmer’s Rice Cooperative,” said Matt Conens, spokesman for the agency. “Because the investigation is still in progress, CDPH cannot comment on any specific findings at this time.”

The agency’s investigation dovetails with a class action suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in late July that alleges that the 700-member cooperative sold broken and flush rice – known in the industry as used, broken or recycled rice – as the premium varieties New Crop and Imperial Rose, as well as a medium grade variety called Calrose rice.

The suit, which, was brought by Jinju Sishi Inc., alleges that selling flush rice as premium rice violates food and drug safety regulations because its storage allows it to come into contact with insects and rodents, and exposes it to the presence of black mold.

The Farmer’s Rice Cooperative denied the allegations and called them “absurd.”

The cooperative, which is grower-owned, supplies domestic and international food manufacturers, brewers, private retailers, exporters and distributors with quality California rice. Its corporate offices are located in Sacramento, and its rice milling and manufacturing facilities are adjacent to the Port of West Sacramento.

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