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​Vietnamese instant coffee faces US recall over mislabeling

Thursday, October 05, 2017, 11:50 GMT+7

A New York-based trading company is recalling a Vietnamese-made instant coffee product after discovering the manufacturer failed to declare milk allergens among its ingredients.

Vinacafé's 'Wake-Up' instant coffee mix contains undeclared milk allergens which pose a “risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions for consumers who are allergic to milk allergens,” Hong Lee Trading Inc. said in its announcement.

The recalled instant coffee mix was in distribution throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut before Hong Lee Trading began urging consumers to return the packets to the place of purchase for a full refund, according to an announcement posted on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.

The recall was initiated after routine sampling by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Inspectors and a subsequent analysis by Food Laboratory personnel revealed the presence of milk allergens in the product which had not been declared on its label.

Hong Lee Trading noted, however, that no illnesses or allergic reactions involving the product have been reported.

A Wake-Up instant coffee pack is seen from behind in this photo provided by the FDA.
A Wake-Up instant coffee pack is seen from behind in this photo provided by the FDA.

Vinacafé is a brand name of Vincafé Bien Hoa, a joint stock company located in Dong Nai Province, neighboring Ho Chi Minh City.

A Vincafé Bien Hoa representative told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the recall campaign involving its instant coffee is only due to a labeling error, not product quality.

The Vietnamese company has shipped 43,797 cardboard boxes of Wake-Up coffee to the U.S. so far in 2017.  

Of those, only 100 boxes out of 4,300 shipments delivered to Hong Lee Trading were improperly labeled, the representative underlined.

Vincafé Bien Hoa is reprinting the labels and plans to send them to the U.S. to resolve the issue, he added.

“This is a mistake in the labeling process for the products involved and has nothing to do with their quality,” the company representative said.

“In the worst-case scenario, if the FDA rejects our relabeling solution, we will compensate Hong Lee Trading with 100 new correctly labeled boxes.”

This is not the first time Vinacafé Bien Hoa has had its instant coffee mix recalled in North America due to mislabeling.

In November 2014, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency also asked the Vietnamese firm to recall a batch of products that failed to declare milk allergens on its labels.

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