Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service on Surveillance for Consumer rights protection and human well-being) has developed a “Strategy for raising the quality of food products in the Russian Federation by 2030».
It’s really a big deal they are about to start – after all it is necessary to create a single unified information system, which will track the movement of food products – from components to finished products. Plus, they’ll have to introduce compulsory state registration of the basic kinds of food additives. “Excise stamp” on the whole range of food production, cool, #whythehellnot!
Dealing with grand challenges is a profitable endeavour, because while you’re fighting for peace around the world no one will ask you about the devastation in your own WC. We haven’t yet figured out the simple issues, which one won’t have time to do within this large-scale project or vice versa, and now it is a good time to identify the specifics. For example, how do you enter the legislative amendments that will help to distinguish the coffee beverage prepared from the so-called “coffee material”?
Bureaucratic technology of changes
Russia lives according to the technical regulations for food products, which were developed before the introduction of Customs Union, i.e. this document is more than 20 years old. Any document about changing the technical regulations of any kind of products should first be applied to the Ministry of Health, which shall consider it and with the help of the Technical Committee of Rosstandart shall give the official answer which is more a comment on the application.
Further, the Ministry of Health will send this document to the Eurasian Economic Commission, which also considers the document, and if it deems it necessary, sends it for the approval of all the Customs Union countries, receives the answers from them and make a decision as to change the current version of the technical regulation. A bit scary, but in fact it worked out for milk and milk-derived products somehow.
Why there is a need for Technical Regulations on coffee and coffee containing products
There are groups of products that can be traced as having the systemic violations of the ingredients used. The most famous example – milk and products based on it. Coffee is a very convenient product for falsifying and any kind of fraud. Even those who are far from the coffee world are aware that there are two botanical varieties of coffee beans: Arabica, which is expensive and the cheaper one – Robusta. But one kind of Arabica is different from the other kind, experts counted 32 types of Arabica and Robusta has far more varieties. Surprisingly enough there’s no 100% method of determining differences of one type from the other, even the experts often get it wrong. At the time same 1 kilogram of Robusta is 2-2.5 times cheaper than 1 kilogram of Arabica.
So immediately the way of “saving” emerges – one simply need to replace the expensive kind with the cheaper one. There are legal and ethical covers for that: it’s difficult to prepare coffee beverage from 100% Arabica for it is acidic, so the experts create a blend of Arabica and Robusta during the roasting process, and they do so not only for the economy reasons. The branded coffee blend may contain from 4 to 10 or even more different types of coffee beans. Determining which raw materials were used to create this particular blend after the roasting is almost impossible.
Once again, very few people know that the world’s standards allow producers to call their blend “100% Arabica” even with 10% of actual Robusta content. Taking advantage of this, most roasting companies offer a roasted blend called “100% Arabica” with the actual content of Robusta of 20% and even 30%.
In the absence of objective methods of assessing the quality of roasted coffee blends, manufacturers who are looking for making savings embark on a variety of experiments. At best they use cheap raw materials, and at worst – the ones spoiled by pests, moldy, expired green coffee beans etc. In most “serious” cases they do not use the coffee at all: roasted cereals, nuts, acorns etc.
But so far officials believe that the request for change of regulations is not significant within the frame of industry as a whole. If the authorities will react to every slight change in the industry, or will pay attention to the details of the product by category (appearance, percentage, grammage, blend, color, smell and so on.) – they will simply get mired in bureaucracy. And with that approach, as described above – they surely will.
Dust of Brazilian roads
The situation is even more complicated with instant coffee. In the course of officials there’s an axiom, the mantra – instant coffee consists of organic coffee for 100%. Large companies do not break the rules, and to raise a wave of bureaucratic control for 1% of offenders is stupid.
It only remains to go down the road of awareness. For the production of instant coffee are used the coffee beans that are not in demand (read – were rejected) by the producers of traditional coffee. To improve the taste, smell and color of soluble coffee almost all manufacturers use different chemical additives: flavors, stabilizers, colorants, and preservatives
Am I mistaken? Correct me if i’m wrong but please, do so only with figures and research data that can be trusted.
RusHOLTS company is engaged in a special niche of catering, supplying products and equipment to cafes at gas stations. Perhaps company was first to face on a massive scale the fact that there are places where coffee is sold on a non-competitive basis, for example, at the gas station. Once again, near large cities one can select another gas station, or postpone the purchase, but on the long road one has a situation where he has to take what is given or leave. The choice is made for him by those who are planning the product range of shops and cafes at gas stations.
The average price of a cup of coffee in catering establishments – 80 rubles, while the cost is no more than 20 rubles. In other words, the return on sales may exceed 300%! What could be better than a business with 300% profit? In our opinion – the production of “roasted coffee blends, ground coffee and instant coffee concentrates on the basis of it”. After all, the cost of a cup of instant coffee – 1,5-3 rubles, and when there is no competition it is possible to sell it for 50 rubles. We would like that this choice was made not only because of the cheapness. Massive expand of the product is also too bad an argument. As of now in Russia, about 80% of coffee products consumption is the instant coffee, but it does not mean that the instant coffee on the road is the best choice for drivers.
If there’s a choice between the boiling water plus a packet of questionable coffee chemicals on the one hand and a cup of cappuccino on the other, then I am for coffee beans based beverage, prepared by superautomatic coffee machine under the supervision of remote monitoring. In this case, I’m sure that the machine was washed in timely fashion, the milk was stored in good refrigerator, and if you’re lucky, they used bottled water and a special blend for automatic coffee machines. This means that I spend my 90-100 rubles on coffee, rather than on “coffee drink” made from something unknown.
Even if Rospotrebnadzor recognizes that “there’s the turnover of production, that does not meet the needs of most people”, in my opinion, now is a very good moment to help the consumer to begin to distinguish the coffee of masculine gender from the coffee of neuter gender (in Russian language both forms are possible but only the first is considered to be grammatically correct and is used to designate a quality product).
The precedent for such work – legislative decision on labeling of milk and milk-derived products. The legal basis is the “International Coffee Agreement 2007” which Russia joined just recently – in March of 2015.
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