Federal Investigators Asked to Look at Chemical Dosing by Starbucks
HIGH POINT, NC / ACCESSWIRE / November 21, 2022 / North Carolina officials have alerted Puroast® Coffee Company Inc. that its complaint, alleging Starbucks Corporation is adding high levels of potassium to some of its coffee labeled '100% Arabica Coffee,' has been forwarded to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for further investigation.
Puroast Coffee, which is headquartered in High Point, N.C., filed a complaint with the N.C. Attorney General's office in September alleging Starbucks is adulterating Starbucks Dark French Roast Coffee sold at grocery stores with the chemical, artificially changing the flavor of its coffee. Starbucks does not list the addition of potassium on its packaging. The N.C. Attorney General referred the complaint to the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS). NCDA&CS reviewed the data in the complaint and determined that because Starbucks Coffee sold in North Carolina could come from roasting facilities outside of the state that the FDA had jurisdiction in the matter and would have authority to investigate the case.
The abnormally high levels of potassium in Starbucks Dark French Roast were confirmed by independent laboratory tests conducted in August by Salam A. Ibrahim, Ph.D., a research professor at North Carolina A&T State University. While baseline amounts of potassium are present naturally in coffee and other foods, the amount of potassium found in the Starbucks Dark French Roast that was tested far exceeds what was found in other national coffee brands tested, according to Dr. Ibrahim.
'Dr. Ibrahim's findings show there is no natural explanation for the high levels of potassium found in Starbucks Dark French Roast. Starbucks has offered no explanation as to why the acid levels have changed so dramatically,' said Kerry Sachs, CEO of Puroast Coffee. 'We are encouraged that the North Carolina Department of Agriculture reviewed the North Carolina A&T lab results and concluded there was good cause to ask the U.S Food and Drug Administration to investigate. Starbucks has denied they are adding potassium, but the lab tests tell a different story. The pH of Starbucks Dark French Roast has all of a sudden risen to more than 3 times the level of its other coffees.'
Sachs said Puroast discovered the adulterated Starbucks Dark French Roast Coffee because the company regularly monitors other brands in the market. 'Puroast Coffee is 100% pure coffee with proven less acid and more antioxidants than any other national brand,' said Sachs said. 'Our roasting naturally produces these qualities, in a coffee with a smooth, rich flavor. We don't add chemicals. Starbucks is apparently trying to achieve Puroast's smooth flavor artificially by adding potassium. It's hard to understand a company doing this, but certainly consumers have a right to know if chemicals are being added to their coffee.'
'The tests completed by labs at North Carolina A&T found Starbucks Dark French Roast had potassium levels that are more than 14 standard deviation points above the other national brands we tested. This is a significant spike that suggests potassium was added to the coffee during processing,' said Dr. Ibrahim. 'The result is the pH level for the Starbucks Dark French Roast tested was 5.7. Average pH levels for coffee are typically 4.85 to 5.2. By adding potassium, Starbucks is significantly altering the acidity level of its Dark French Roast. These tests show that potassium is being added, but this chemical ingredient is not disclosed on the packaging.'
Dr. Ibrahim said the testing process used to find the high potassium levels follows accepted scientific methodology and relied on sophisticated analytical equipment. Previous studies, including a 2016 National Institutes of Health report, show traditionally higher levels of acid in Starbucks Coffee. This fact, combined with the extraordinary high potassium levels detected by Dr. Ibrahim, leads to the conclusion that Starbucks is intentionally adding potassium to their coffee. The Starbucks Dark French Roast Coffee tested was purchased between June and August 2022 at four different grocery store chains in California, Florida, Massachusetts and North Carolina.
The complaint filed with the North Carolina Attorney General on behalf of Puroast Coffee by Greensboro attorney David Puryear, alleges Starbucks is violating North Carolina food labelling statutes by not disclosing the potassium ingredient on their packaging. Now those allegations have been turned over to federal investigators.
Dr. Taka Shibamoto, who conducted prior acid chemistry studies on coffee at the University of California, Davis, reviewed the North Carolina A&T findings and said the data was conclusive that Starbucks was adding potassium, likely potassium carbonate, as a buffering agent resulting in a corresponding increase in pH in the coffee.
'Puroast is the only company I'm aware that is producing low acid coffee without the use of buffering agents,' Dr. Shibamoto said. 'The pH differences between Puroast and the other coffees tested was significant enough to have our study accepted for publication. A follow-on study presented at the American Chemical Society proves roasting such as that Puroast could be using, convert certain acids into quite strong antioxidants such as polyphenols.'
Puroast Coffee is 100% pure coffee that is naturally 70% lower in acid and has seven times higher antioxidant levels than green tea and more than five times more than other coffees. This data was confirmed by the published research of Dr. Shibamoto. Lower acid levels in coffee are important to consumers looking for smoother tasting coffee and those trying to limit acid intake because of heartburn or acid reflux disease.
The amount of potassium found in the Starbucks Dark French Roast that was tested at North Carolina A&T exceeds what was found in other national coffee brands tested and is not statistically explainable as an organic deviation, according to Dr. Shibamoto. Not disclosing the addition of the chemical might be particularly worrisome for some people who have health conditions that require them to adhere to low potassium diets. According to the National Kidney Foundation, hyperkalemia is a medical issue that results when someone has too much potassium in their blood. Potassium helps nerves, muscles and your heart operate properly, but high levels can be dangerous and lead to serious heart problems. The National Institutes of Health recommend adults get between 2,600-3,400 milligrams of potassium a day, but for people with hyperkalemia, kidney disease, heart issues and conditions such as Addison's Disease, the recommended daily intake of potassium can be 2,000 milligrams.
'Consumers have a right to know what is in their coffee. Starbucks is a global brand and one of the most recognized coffees in the world. If they are adulterating coffee and not disclosing chemical additives, it could shake consumer confidence in the entire coffee category,' Sachs said. 'Puroast Coffee has a unique combination of flavor and wellness benefits which have been verified by independent scientific testing as 100% natural. We're hopeful the FDA will get to the bottom of what is happening.'
About Puroast Coffee
Puroast Coffee Company Inc. was founded after a 1986 visit to a coffee plantation in foothills of the Andes Mountains in Venezuela. The quest for a great, smooth cup of coffee developed into a business focused on coffee that has exquisite flavor, proven lower acid and higher antioxidants. The company originally sold its coffee through natural food stores and co-ops in California. Today, Puroast Coffee can be ordered through the company's online store; via Amazon; at leading retailers, including Kroger, Publix, Ralph's, Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, Market Basket and Natural Grocer; and at the Puroast Coffeehouse in Miami. Learn more about 'The Best Coffee in the World, For the World' at www.puroast.com/discover-wellness.
SOURCE: Puroast Coffee
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