Local authorities are still struggling to ensure the standards of even basic goods such as coffee following revelations that many coffee shops use entirely synthetic replacements.
According to the survey done by the Vietnam Standards and Consumers Association, a third of local coffee products were either of extremely low quality or even completely fake. The results of the report were announced on July 20 at a conference discussing the issue in Ho Chi Minh City.
Dinh Van Manh from the Department of Anti-Environmental Crime Police said the fake coffee was largely a mixture of corn, soybean and flavour powder. “The market isn’t only flooded with dirty coffee that is produced in unhygienic conditions, but also fake coffee made from different powders and sometimes chemicals,” he said.
Nguyen Duy Thinh from the Hanoi University of Science and Technology voiced concern about the potentially carcinogenic ingredients being used in these cheap coffees. According to Thinh, coffees cheaper than VND160,000 per kilo were extraordinarily likely to be fake and could include mouldy corn, soybean and cheap coffee beans that have not been stored properly.
“Vietnamese people like strong bitter taste in their black coffee so those ingredients will be over roasted. This is carcinogenic,” he said.
Meanwhile, Le Phan Cafe Company said each person had different taste and in order to meet market demands, they need various kinds of products and brands. Representative of Le Phan Cafe Company admitted that in order to produce cheap coffee brands, they cheated and used grainsand flavour powders.
“We hope the authorities will issue detailed criteria for coffee products. But the customers must research the formula for themselves to choose the most suitable products,” he said.
Nguyen Huy Quang from the Ministry of Health said they had only developed a national standard for coffee in the past three years for one of Vietnam’s main export products. However, there were some difficulties. He urged firms to follow hygiene and food safety standards and be transparent with consumers.
Pham Tien Dung from the inspectorate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development thought that the punishments were still far too light for adulterated food and beverages. “They are not strict enough to act as deterrence so people and firms keep violating regulations,” he said.
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