KUALA LUMPUR: Adding charcoal to coffee drinks, which is reportedly becoming a trend, is an offence under the Food Regulations 1985.
The health ministry, in a statement today, stated that operators of food premises found serving coffee with charcoal could face prosecution and be fined a maximum of RM10,000 or imprisonment of up to two years if found guilty.
“Ready-to-drink coffee is subject to Regulation 269A of the Food Regulations 1985, which only allows the addition of sugar, dextrose, glucose or honey, milk, cream, other foodstuff and permitted flavouring. Charcoal is not categorised as a food,” read the statement.
The statement was issued in response to a Bernama report on Nov 16 that highlighted the trend of drinking coffee with a lump of burning charcoal dunked into it at a restaurant here. The trend has sparked much debate on social media.
This is because of the claim that charcoal coffee, or “kopi joss” as it is known in Indonesia, has its own unique taste and is said to be able to detoxify the body.
However, health experts have expressed concern that consuming it could cause adverse effects on the body, including bloating, diarrhoea and appendicitis.
The ministry said the hot charcoal added directly to coffee is different from the activated charcoal commonly used in the food industry. Activated charcoal undergoes processing and purification, making it safe for consumption.
“However, with hot charcoal added directly to coffee, it is not possible to determine whether it has been properly processed or whether it is suitable for consumption. It may contain foreign substances or other toxic elements.”
As a precautionary measure, an investigation will be conducted on the restaurant concerned, the ministry said.