A Vietnamese family-run business has been caught producing cheap “dirty” coffee made from batteries, dust and harmful materials
After receiving some tip-offs from local residents who observed suspicious activities in the area, police raided the facility in Dak Nong province on Monday afternoon and found 12 tons of “dirty” coffee.
Other raw materials used in the production were also discovered, including 35kg of black powder extracted from used batteries and a bucket of black liquid weighing 10kg
The owner, Nguyen Thi Loan, told the police that she would buy rejected coffee beans from other facilities at a low price. They would then mix the beans with dirt and rock dust, and dye the whole mixture black with the battery material.
A highly toxic chemical, manganese dioxide, is said to be the black substance in batteries, according to chemistry expert Associate Professor Tran Hong Con.
Manganese poisoning is said to cause brain damage after prolonged exposure.
Despite the owner’s confession and evidence, police have not found enough proof to conclude that the “coffee” was sold for food and drinks, according to Tuoi Tre News
The business had been operating since 2016 and since the start of this year, they have supplied around 2,700kg worth of coffee, according to Loan’s statement.
Tuoi Tre News reported that the police are scrambling to find enough evidence to determine where the coffee has been sold and for what purpose. In the meantime, concerned consumers in Vietnam demand justice for those involved in the business.
However, this isn’t the first time Vietnamese coffee has been found to hold chemicals. Back in 2015 in Ho Chi Minh, a black liquid that smelled like coffee was believed to contain dangerous heavy metals such as mercury and lead.
If consumed regularly, it was said to cause stomach and liver cancer, according to Thanhnien news.
"You actually only need a few drops for a perfect cup. Most coffee shops use this liquid, as it gives a very real fragrance, and a lot of profits," said Xuan, one of the local sellers to a Thanhnien news undercover reporter.
According to Xuan, the liquid actually comes from China.
Local coffee shop owner, Hai, who claims to use real coffee beans said that they already allow him to earn a 100 percent profit margin.
"Only those who want to spend one and earn ten would use this kind of murderous chemical," he said.
As an experienced coffee maker, he said he can recognise a cup of coffee made from the toxic liquid as it has a pungent smell, tastes more bitter and does not leave some sweetness at the end.
"But casual coffee drinkers will not be able to tell the difference," he said.
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, the Health Ministry confirmed that two brands of canned sardines from China have been found to be contaminated by worms: