A VIETNAMESE coffee producer has reportedly been caught red-handed using hazardous materials, such as black powder from used batteries, to dye the beans.
Local police and food inspectors on Tuesday said they raided a family-run coffee production factory where they found tons of finished coffee along with raw materials used the produce them, which included 35 kilograms of black powder taken from used D batteries. The authorities also found about 10 liters of black-coloured water.
Nguyen Thi Loan, the owner of the establishment, told Tuoi Tre News that her workshop bought rejected coffee beans from large factories at the cheap price and mixed them with other materials like dirt, rock, and dust.
She said the black powder found inside the used D batteries served as a ‘dye’ to apply finishes to the products. The owner confessed to having sold more than three tons of the ‘dirty’ coffee since the beginning of the year.
During the raid, authorities also found twelve metric tons of the bad coffee at the facility.
Police also said samples of the materials used would be sent of lab tests to provide evidence for prosecution.
The paper quoted Assoc. Prof. Tran Hong Con, a chemistry expert from the Vietnam National University – Hanoi, as saying the ‘black powder’ contained in the batteries is manganese dioxide a highly oxidant compound.
The academic said as little as 0.5 milligrams of it mixed in a liter of water is enough to cause manganese poisoning in humans.
Additionally, other materials like lead, mercury, zinc, cadmium, and arsenic, which could cause damage to the brain, kidney, cardiovascular and reproductive systems of consumed.
An expert from Vietnam’s National Institute of Nutrition said: “Poisoning caused by any of the aforementioned heavy metals can have very adverse health effects, including death in serious cases.”