Adding charcoal to coffee drinks, which is reportedly become a trend, is an offence in Malaysia under the Food Regulations 1985 act.
The Health Ministry, in a statement to Bernama yesterday, stated that operators of food premises found serving coffee with charcoal could face prosecution and be fined a maximum of RM10,000 or imprisonment for 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 foodstuffs and permitted flavourings. Charcoal is not categorised as a food," read the statement.
The statement was issued in response to a Bernama report on Nov 16, which highlighted that the trend of drinking coffee in a restaurant with a lump of burning charcoal dunked in it at a restaurant here has sparked a 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 explained that the hot charcoal added directly to coffee is different from the activated charcoal commonly used in the food industry, as the latter undergoes processing and purification that makes 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, as it may contain foreign substances or other toxic elements.
"As a precautionary measure, an investigation will be conducted upon receiving complete information about the affected food premises, the ministry said.
Consumers who have any concerns regarding food safety issues can contact the nearest District Health Office or the State Health Department or the MOH via the website http://moh.spab.gov.my or the official Facebook page of the Food Safety and Quality Division (BKKM) at www.facebook.com/bkkmhq. — Bernama