Vietnamese police seize “deadly coffee” mixed with black powder from used batteries

A family-run coffee producer in Vietnam’s Dak Nong province has been caught producing coffee mixed with harmful ingredients from used batteries, dirt and rock dust and dyed black, Tuoi Tre News daily newspaper reported.

Authorities seized about 12 tonnes of “dirty” coffee from the illegal factory in a raid on Monday (April 16). They also discovered tons of finished coffee as well as raw materials used in production, including 35 kilograms of black powder taken from used D batteries and a bucket of blackish water weighing around ten kilograms.

The owner of the facility, Nguyen Thi Loan, admitted to the police that she would buy rejected coffee beans from other facilities at low prices.  The beans would then be ground and mixed with other ingredients such as dirt and rock dust and then used the black powder found inside D batteries to ‘dye’ the mixture to produce finished products.

Loan confessed to having run the facility for years and had sold over three tons of ‘coffee’ to the market since the beginning of 2018.

A chemistry expert from Vietnam National University, Associate Professor Tran Hong Con, said the black substance extracted from used batteries is a toxic chemical called manganese dioxite which is a highly oxidant compound and as little as 9.5 milligrams of it mixed with a litre of water is enough to cause manganese poisoning in humans.

Manganese poisoning can cause brain damage after prolonged exposure.  The poisoning is irreversible and can lead to hallucinations and death.