95% of coffee samples tested by Consumer Council contain acrylamide, a genetic carcinogen

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17th January 2022 – (Hong Kong) The Consumer Council announced today (17th) that acrylamide, a genetic carcinogen, was detected in 95% of coffee samples, and the content of instant coffee powder was higher than that of coffee beans, coffee capsules, and coffee powder. Taster’s Choice (Nestle) Original Soluble Coffee had the most, containing 790 micrograms and it did not meet the EU standard. 20% of the samples were found to contain lead, and 10% of the samples were found to contain tin, but they did not exceed the standard.

Since the immature coffee beans contain a large amount of free asparagine, acrylamide will be formed under high temperature roasting. Although the content of acrylamide in coffee is lower than other fried foods, consumers still need to pay more attention to coffee. The amount and frequency of drinking to reduce the chance of ingesting acrylamide. From May to June last year, the Council collected 49 samples of different types of coffee products from supermarkets, department stores, food retail stores, etc., including 10 types of coffee beans, 9 types of coffee capsules, 16 types of coffee powder and 14 samples of instant coffee powder, with prices ranging from HK$15 to HK$168. Some of the samples were packaged with “Organic Coffee” written on them. The Consumer Council tested the samples for caffeine content, heavy metals lead and tin, and genetic carcinogenicity. acrylamide, mycotoxins, etc.


It was found that among the 49 coffee products, only 2 samples did not contain acrylamide, including “The Coffee Academics” and “OPAL Coffee”. Among them, instant coffee powder is the most serious. The average content of acrylamide per kilogram in the 14 samples ranges from 160 to 790 micrograms. Among them, “Taster’s Choice (Nestle) Original Soluble Coffee” from South Korea has the most, containing 790 micrograms, followed by ” M&S Food Italian Style Instant Coffee- Dark Roast 4- freeze dried” with 670 mcg. The Consumer Council pointed out that acrylamide is a genetic carcinogen and neurotoxic substance, and coffee beans may produce acrylamide during the roasting process, so any coffee product derived from roasted coffee beans may contain acrylamide.


The Consumer Council pointed out that acrylamide was not detected in 2 of the samples, reflecting that it is practicable for manufacturers to reduce the possible acrylamide produced during the selection of raw materials, roasting and processing of coffee products. In addition, lead was detected in 10 samples, with the detection amount ranging from 0.008 to 0.039 mg per kilogram, and tin was detected in 5 samples, with the detection amount ranging from 0.039 to 0.404 mg per kilogram, and the detected lead or tin content were all lower than The Food Adulteration (Metallic Contamination) Regulations have an upper limit of 0.5 mg/kg lead and 250 mg/kg tin. The test also found that the caffeine content varies greatly between samples. Due to the extraction and concentration process of instant coffee powder, the average caffeine content of instant coffee powder is higher than that of coffee beans, coffee capsules and coffee powder samples. Drinking 2 cups will exceed an adult’s daily caffeine content i.e. 400 mg recommended intake.

The Consumer Council pointed out that consumers should be aware that long-term consumption of caffeine will increase tolerance to caffeine, resulting in the need for higher doses of caffeine to achieve the same physiological effect and may also cause physiological dependence on caffeine, sudden cessation of ingestion may lead to caffeine withdrawal, leading to symptoms such as headache, irritability and fatigue. Consumers are advised to read the product description on the package carefully, such as the variety of coffee beans, roasting degree, label words, etc. They should choose the right coffee product. Opened coffee products should be sealed and stored in a cool and dry place, and consumed as soon as possible.

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