GERMANY – Nestlé Deutschland, the German subsidiary company of the food multinational company Nestlé, has reported the presence of a counterfeit version of Nestlé branded coffee which may contain foreign objects, in German markets.

The company informed that the soluble coffee was packaged in a glass jar to imitate an old version of Nescafé Gold. There are also concerns it may contain broken glass and plastic. Glass and plastic fragments can cause injuries in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract and cause internal bleeding there.

Nestle said it had not manufactured or distributed the implicated product and had not used this shape of glass for Nescafé Gold for years and it is not commercially available.

The counterfeit product is known to have been sold at weekly markets and smaller shops but other details about the incident remain unclear. It has an EAN code of 405500210900, batch number 60820814B1 9:15 and best before date of 10-21.

People who have purchased a counterfeit pack are advised to inform the police and stop consuming the coffee. Nestlé has contacted the relevant authorities and urged them to investigate and stop the fraud.

“We are shocked by this criminal activity and deeply condemn the fact that our brand has been illegally counterfeited and marketed. The quality and safety of our products is our top priority,” said a company statement.

Coffee a target for food fraudsters

Coffee has become an increasingly common target for food fraudsters, with low quality ground coffee beans adulterated with filler ingredients such as corn, barley, wheat, soybeans, rice, beans, acai seed, brown sugar or starch syrup. One of the main drivers has been a reduction in coffee bean output thanks to poor harvests in some key producers such as Brazil.

There have also been examples of completely artificial counterfeit coffees, including an incident in Vietnam in 2015 involving a substitute that smelled and tasted like coffee but was found on analysis to contain toxic heavy metals.

In 2016, the company was faced with a similar issue when Thai police busted a fake Nestle instant coffee factory in Bangkok’s northern suburbs.

Acting on a tip-off, a team of police descended on a business premise in Pathum Thani armed with a search warrant where they found 2 million THB (US$ US$60,000) worth of fake Nestle instant coffee.

They discovered machinery including four mixing machines, four packaging machines and 19 sacks of mixed instant coffee awaiting packaging, falsely branded Nescafe 3-in-1.  More than 89,000 sachets of fake instant coffee destined for distribution were seized, along with 280,000 empty packs.

The penalty of producing and selling bogus food products with unlicensed labels in Bangkok is a prison term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to 100,000 baht (US$ 3000).

In the same year,2016, Nestle turned to packaging firm Uflex for a security seal designed to protect its Nescafe coffee brand from counterfeiting in India.

The Seal of Authenticity is described by Uflex as a tamper-proof brand protection/anti-counterfeiting solution that does not affect the retail price of the product – in this case Nescafe Classic brand. The seal includes a 3D reflective lens image applied using transfer technology as well as other security features.

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