Battery mixture at Vietnam coffee plant was to be sold as black pepper: probe

By Thien Nhan   April 26, 2018 | 08:09 pm PT
Battery mixture at Vietnam coffee plant was to be sold as black pepper: probe
A plate of coffee bean skin, gravels and battery mixture (L) is put next to a plate of that mixture with black pepper at a press conference in Dak Nong Province on Thursday. Photo by VnExpress
None of the mixed black pepper has made it out to the market, officials said.

A coffee and battery mixture busted at a coffee plant in Vietnam last week was meant to be sold as black pepper for profit, officials said at a press briefing late on Thursday.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Loan, owner of the coffee plant in the Central Highlands' Dak Nong Province, has admitted that she mixed coffee bean skins with gravels and colored the mixture with battery's black powder to sell as food product.

Three tons of the mixture had been sold to Phan Thi Dung, owner of a production company in the southern province of Binh Phuoc, who had mixed it with black pepper for sale.

Authorities have found nine tons of black pepper mixed with the battery compound. They said none of the product has been sold to the market.

Police said Loan’s coffee plant has been in operation since 2016 and initial investigation found she started making the battery mixture early this year. News of police discovering 21 tons of the mixture at her plant won national headlines, raising concerns from coffee lovers and affirmed locals' doubt over food safety management in the country.

Authorities said they are finishing legal documents to press charges against the women and three other people involved for violation on food safety regulations, which is punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

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