TV host hit with defamation suit over rice chemical claims
- Published: 11/07/2013 at 05:24 PM
- Online news:
The Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group has filed a defamation case against a popular television show host who posted a message on his Facebook page naming rice mills that allegedly used a chemical to fumigate rice, resulting in contamination.
The Charoen Pokphand Group's complaint is that TV host Suttipong Thamawuti (right) refused to respond when they tried to explain and demonstrate the actual process of storing and packing rice.
Sumeth Laomoraphorn, chief executive officer of International Trading Business at CP Group, said on Thursday that Suttipong Thamawuti, founder of TV Burapha and producer of the Khon-Kon-Khon (Man Discovers Man) programme, had damaged the rice industry's reputation by commenting on the use of chemical fumigation for rice packaged under the Royal Umbrella brand.
After the fumigation issue was made public by Mr Suttipong, the company released a statement explaining the rice production process and contacted him to invite him to see the process for himself.
After receiving no response from Mr Suttipong, Mr Sumeth said the company decided to take action to rectify damage caused to the image of Thai rice industry.
The complaint was filed at Huay Kwang police station on Wednesday evening.
Mr Sumeth said the incident had not yet affected the company's sales, but warned that there could be an impact if negative information continued to spread. He called on the public to check their facts before sharing such information via social media.
Mr Suttipong argued that he posted about the alleged contamination of some rice brands with good intentions, because he is concerned about the health of consumers.
While he was composing the post on his iPhone, he accidentally hit the send button, despite the post being incomplete. He immediately deleted the post but it had already been shared by many people, he said.
He insisted that his comments had nothing to do with politics or the intention to discredit any brand of rice.
Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongpaisan on Thursday denied rumours regarding toxic chemical residues being found in rice held in the government's rice pledging scheme.
He called on anyone with concrete proof of the claim to present evidence to the authorities so wrongdoers could be prosecuted, should the rumours prove to be true.
"The rumours are merely a ploy to discredit the government. The move did nothing but damage to the country and its rice trading reputation," Mr Niwatthamrong said.
Chatchai Promlert, director-general of the Department of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, said only 30 rotten rice bags were discovered out of the 2,500 in his department's survival kits.
"I'm confident that the cause of the rotten rice lies within the transportation methods, not because of chemical residues," Mr Chatchai said.
He said all of the damaged rice bags have been replaced, and that he has instructed officials to be on the lookout for any decayed products in survival kits.
Somkiat Makcayathorn, president of the Thai Rice Packers Association, said the association is considering legal action and could file a complaint under the Computer Act against Mr Suttipong, although the association may not have been directly damaged.
He said rice packers in general are facing difficulties because consumers lack confidence in their products, even though each packer adheres to production standards set out by their brand.
"We are the victim and don't know what is the intention, whether it is related to the rice stock or not. If there is no evidence, the information should not be shared because it creates damage to the country," he said.
Wiboonlaksana Ruamraksa, director-general of Internal Trade Department, said the department will soon announce the names of millers that will be accredited under food production standards, including the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) schemes, to boost confidence among consumers.
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- Writer: Online Reporters
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