Vinatas, the association for standards and consumers rights protection, said that 30% of coffee products available in the market contain very little or no caffeine.
C49, the Police Department for Environmental Crime Prevention, confirmed that when conducting inspection tours to localities, it discovered coffee roasters mixing coffee with soybeans and cereal to save costs and optimize profits.
Mixing coffee with soybeans is not prohibited by law. However, the problem is that the roasters still sell products in the market as 100% coffee. Very few suppliers declare the proportion of soybeans in products.
A representative of C49 said the police once discovered a roaster which provided ‘100% soybean product’ but advertised that it sold ‘100% pure coffee’.
Nguyen Hung Long, deputy head of the Department of Food Hygiene and Safety, said the ministry’s inspectors many times discovered that coffee products had been mixed with soybeans and corn.
“Sometimes the coffee made in Kon Tum province was labeled as the product of Ho Chi Minh City and the producers did not show the ingredients. When I asked them about this, they said if they show the ingredients, the products wouldn't sell,” Long said.
Nguyen Duy Thinh, former Food Technology Dean, also said that coffee products mixed with soybeans were sold everywhere in the south in general and Ho Chi Minh City in particular.
“It is exactly the behavior of committing trade fraud to sell roasted soybeans and corn as pure coffee,” he said.
The representative of Le Phan Company, which owns Milano coffee brand, said it was quite normal to mix soybeans with coffee to make some low-cost products, but producers have to show the ingredients on the packs.
Meanwhile, Le Thi Hoang Yen, PR and marketing director of Nestle Vietnam, said that Vietnamese consumers have different tastes, and in order to satisfy the diversified tastes, Nestle Vietnam offers both 100% pure coffee and mixed coffee products.
Nestle committed to report the proportions of ingredients to state management agencies, but it only shows main ingredients of products on the packs.
In reply, Nguyen Huy Quang from the Ministry of Health said declaring the product content was a must when enterprises show the ingredients.
“The secret does not lie in the percent of soybean,” he said.