Two Burmese Coffee Creamers Get Green Light From Consumer Protection Group
By Kyaw Hsu Mon 23 December 2013
RANGOON — After raising concerns about the possibility of harmful ingredients being added to instant creamers and coffee mixes widely available in Burma, a consumer advocacy group says test results for two popular brands have come back clean.
The Consumer Protection Association (CPA) announced last month that it suspected some brands contained an inedible by-product of palm oil production. The ingredient, which it believed was being imported from China, would save costs on production but could be harmful to health if ingested over time, the advocacy group warned, adding that it planned to conduct tests to determine which products, if any, were unsafe.
The group, which is Burma’s only consumer rights group, originally planned to send samples to a laboratory in Thailand for testing. So far it has sent two brands—both locally produced, with ingredients sourced from China—to a laboratory in Malaysia.
“We sent two local brands, Premier and Pep creamers, to the lab. Now we have the results. We did not find any dangerous ingredients in the creamers,” said Soe Kalayar Htike, general secretary of the CPA, told The Irrawaddy on Monday.
She said that although a number of Chinese creamer brands are also available in Burma, and could potentially contain the harmful ingredient, the group has not yet sent any of these for testing because it has been busy applying for official registration from the government.
Many civil society organizations in the country are currently attempting to register as the government transitions from military rule to a more democratic system.
The CPA also has not yet tested any three-in-one coffee mixes of coffee, sugar and creamer. It plans to test Chinese creamers early next year, Soe Kalayar Htike said.
Earlier this year, the CPA claimed that urea-based fertilizer was being widely used in the production of fish paste, a staple of the Burmese diet. It sent three samples of locally sold fish paste to Burma’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), part of the Health Ministry.
The FDA found that one of the samples continued too much urea as well as ammonia. Both are unstable compounds that usually dissolve and should not pose serious health risks, according to FDA director general Dr. Myint Han. But he added that it was difficult to rule out health problems from ingesting the chemicals in the long term.
The CPA is also currently testing a local chicken powder used for curry and a local brand of peanut oil. “We will announce these results later, as we are busy registering our association,” Soe Kalayar Htike said.