Authorities have caught an unlicensed sugar producer in south-central Vietnam using a harmful acid and an unidentified chemical while making yellow sugar, which was sold to cafés and eateries. Following a tip-off, a joint inspection team including environmental police and agro-forestry and aquatic product quality controllers in the south-central province of Binh Thuan on Sunday morning raided an establishment in Phan Thiet and discovered a sugar-making process which used toxic chemicals. Ly Le Chau, 52, who owns the establishment, has a license for sugar wholesaling but she does not have a license for sugar production, inspectors said. The team seized a plastic tank containing 18kg of phosphoric acid, an industrial chemical used as a cleanser, which is not allowed to be used in food processing. Inspectors also found and seized an amount of an unidentified yellow chemical, and 150kg of yellow sugar. Sugar produced with such an acid will be harmful to anyone who consumes it, an official in charge of food safety said. Bags of finished sugar products and tools for making them were placed on the dirty floor of the establishment, inspectors said. Chau’s establishment is located next to the public toilet of the Nam Phan Thiet Bus Station, Cong An TP.HCM (Ho Chi Minh City Police) newspaper reported. The woman said she bought cheap white sugar for VND13,000 ($0.6) per kg and then mixed it with the acid and the chemical to create a kind of yellow sugar which looks attractive. Chau said she sold the sugar to cafés and eateries for VND15,500 per kg, adding that she also sold it at her stall at the Phan Thiet Market, Cong An TP.HCM said. The same day, the same joint team raided another establishment in Ham Thuan Bac District and discovered a large volume of bamboo shoots being processed with two kinds of unidentified powder – one white, the other yellow. Bamboo sprouts were soaked with water mixed with the white powder first and then the yellow, inspectors said, adding that they are trying to identify the name of the powder.
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