Be careful what you drink. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

One in three instant-coffee products sold in Hong Kong contains toxic substances, test results by a biotech company showed. Vitargent (International) Biotechnology collected 30 instant-coffee products in 11 brands from supermarkets and online shopping platforms and tested their toxicity in May.

It found that there were toxic substances in 33% of the products, and noted that products of Southeast Asian brands had noticeable worse quality, Sing Tao Daily reported.

The company analyzed the products for acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients, and the samples were categorized as “green fish”, “yellow fish” or “red fish”, which meant, respectively, “excellence”, “basic” and “sub-optimal” in safety. The “red fish” category indicated that the product was below standard in one or more criteria, and consumers were recommended to use extra caution in purchasing it.

According to the results, 13 of the 30 samples were green fish. There were seven yellow fish and 10 red fish.

For most instant-coffee products, actual coffee accounts for only 5-9% of the ingredients, with the rest made up of various additives such as creamer, emulsifier and stabilizer. Only a few products contain 100% real coffee.

The results also showed that instant cappuccino products use significantly more additives than other coffee products.

Vitargent chief executive Jimmy Tao said he believed that additives were the source of toxic substances found in the “sub-optimal” products. He advised consumers to pay extra attention to food labels, which should alert them to high additive content, Apple Daily reported.

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