Coffee Board Plans Meet On Health Safety

Kochi, Sept 28: | Updated: Sep 29 2003, 05:30am hrs
The coffee crisis is far from over. Besides the problems of overproduction and swinging prices, a major issue that has cropped up was implications of coffee consumption on health.

In a recent survey in Columbia, it was found that 54 per cent of the respondents said they had health complications due to coffee consumption and were moving away from coffee.

In the wake of such a development, the board was planning a meet on health aspects very soon, according to Lakshmi Venkatachalam, chairperson, Coffee Board.

The coffee market was entering a stage of overproduction with Brazil and Vietnam, two low cost producers, leading the show along with higher flexibility due to technological innovations in blending of coffee by roasters, she said. Over the last five years, countries lost around $20 billion owing to the fall in international coffee prices by more than 65 per cent below its long-term historical average. The thrust of the sector should be diversification of markets to take advantage of the present scenario. New issues concerning food safety were other problems the sector was facing. The European Union was bringing in new standards for levels of Ochratoxin A (OTA).

This had reached a crucial level. As per the latest working document, the maximum level being discussed was 3-4 ppb for roasted coffee and 6-10 for soluble coffee. The limits were not on the product as consumed and compared unfairly with the limits (on a consumption basis) in products like which were being produced there.