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Food Safety Focus (186th Issue, January 2022) – Article 3

Coffee: Waking You Up with a Catch?

There was a recent local study which reports the existence of various natural substances and contaminants in coffee or coffee products, raising some health concerns.

A popular drink, coffee is prepared from the seeds (beans) of coffee plants. While the polyphenols in coffee are generally presumed to contribute to health benefits like reduced risks of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes based on epidemiological studies, coffee should be consumed in moderation, especially for pregnant women and children due to caffeine. As in many other agricultural products, coffee beans may also contain mould toxins like ochratoxin A and process contaminants formed during roasting such as acrylamide.

The overall dietary exposure to ochratoxin A in Hong Kong is relatively low at up to 9.2% of the health-based guidance value and of no health concern to the local population. The contribution of coffee to the overall dietary acrylamide intake of local adults is also insignificant. However, members of the public are advised to maintain a balanced and varied diet to minimise the risk from exposure to contaminants from a limited range of food items.