“Coffee police” fight fraud

Brazil’s coffee industry is engaged in a tireless battle against rogue roasters who cut corners and costs by bulking up their products with corn, soy or even wood, the ABIC industry association says.

The tainted products have not been known to cause health problems in the consumers who drink them, usually unknowingly, but the industry takes a hard line against the fraudulent practice to protect the beverage’s image.

The joint initiative known as the Seal of Purity is run by the Brazilian Coffee Industry Association (ABIC) and involves laboratory testing of coffee picked at random from supermarket shelves. The seal was launched 20 years ago.

“The most common thing is to find wood from the (coffee) tree and shells from the beans but you can also find corn or caramel, which is much cheaper than coffee,” said Almir Jose da Silva, ABIC’s chairman.

Most of Brazil’s exported coffee is shipped as raw beans, confining this problem to products sold at home…

Roasters falling short of the law on the other hand, are given the opportunity by judicial authorities to fix the problems within a set time and their contaminated batches are withdrawn from sale.

The fine is doubled if more impure coffees are discovered at a later date and then companies can eventually be shut down by the government authorities if the practices continue.

I wonder how many consumers can tell the difference?

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