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Officials Slow to Act on Fake Coffee Sold in Saigon, Buon Ma Thuot

Around the world, humans seem to have a strange fixation with coffee beans that have been pulled out of another animal's poop. But just because you like coffee that comes from shit doesn't mean that coffee should taste like shit.

And yet, some Vietnamese coffee vendors are concocting a mixture of fake chemicals and passing it off as coffee in an effort to raise profits. 

While this is not a new problem in Vietnam, vendors are now selling this fake beverage not only in Saigon but Buon Ma Thuot, the country's coffee capital, reports DTI. By using harmful chemicals, vendors are able to dilute their coffee without compromising the taste, a practice which leads unknowing consumers to drink the potentially dangerous beverage.

The necessary chemicals are easily found at local markets, where coffee-flavored substances run around VND380,000 a liter.

“You only need a small amount of coffee and lots of ice. No one will be able to recognize that it's fake,” one vendor told DTI.

Such substances are also available online, where vendors have gone so far as to create moka and robusta flavors of the chemicals. According to one Facebook page, two liters of chemicals can make up to 320 cups of fake coffee 

Despite the obvious health risks, little action is being taken on the matter. Though the HCMC Plant Protection Department reports 92 coffee processing facilities in the city, the agency says they don't have the ability to deal with these fake coffee producers. 

Elsewhere, various officials also seem to be passing the buck, tossing responsibility back and forth between different administrative departments. Tran Ngoc Thanh, head of Dak Lak's Agro Forestry Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, puts the task of handling these fake coffee vendors on the health sector. Tran Van Tiet, vice head of the provincial Food Administration, on the other hand, believes it's up to the Department of Industry and Trade to regulate offending shops.

However, Vice Head of the Market Surveillance Agency Nguyen Dao Chi disagrees, arguing that her department is responsible only for checking invoices and business operations, while food quality remains the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which covers both Tiet and Thanh's agencies.

In short, there's probably no official solution coming soon.

Meanwhile, coffee drinkers can only lament the impact this might have on the quality and safety of their favorite drink. “We spent at least VND3 million to have five liters of good coffee,” local cafe owner Nguyen Thu Phuong tells DTI. “They must have used dangerous chemicals in order to create five liters for a few hundred thousand [dong].”

[Photo via VnExpress]

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