Operators of food premisses can face a maximum fine of RM10,000 or imprisonment for up to two years, if found guilty.
Coffee has become a part of many people’s lives. There are many types of coffee, and the latest trend is “Kopi Joss” (charcoal coffee).
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However, the Health Ministry (MOH) has stated that adding charcoal to coffee drinks is an offence under the Food Regulations of 1985.
Operators of food premises found serving charcoal could face prosecution, a maximum fine 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 classified as a food,” read the statement.
The statement was issued in response to a Bernama report on 16 November, which highlighted the trend of drinking coffee in a restaurant with a lump of burning charcoal dunked in it, sparking a debate on social media.
Health experts are concerned about the potential adverse effects of consuming hot charcoal added to coffee, such as bloating, diarrhoea, and appendicitis, as the hot charcoal is different from activated charcoal used in the food industry, which undergoes processing and purification.
“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,” said the ministry.
According to an article by Remarkable Indonesia Coffee, Kopi Joss is said to have originated in Indonesia. The coffee is a unique, unrestrained brewed coffee that involves immersing a piece of burning charcoal into the coffee to give it a baking taste.
The name comes from the “joss” sound of the emerging charcoal.
Kopi Joss is commonly found in roadside stalls in Yogyakarta, Java’s cultural heartland. Angkringan, a wheelbarrow that sells various foods and beverages, is a popular spot for Kopi Joss.