Plastic-like nata de coco does not contain plastic, Indonesia’s food agency says addressing viral hoax

Nata de coco cubes. Photo: Indonesia Agriculture Ministry
Nata de coco cubes. Photo: Indonesia Agriculture Ministry

There have been several viral hoaxes about foods containing plastic that have alarmed Indonesians in recent years, most notably the plastic rice scare of 2015. The latest food to get on the list is arguably one with with the most plastic-like qualities to begin with. 

Recently, numerous videos have circulated online alleging that nata de coco — a common term used in Indonesia to refer to coconut gel, a rubbery dessert popular in the country — contains plastic. In the video below, for example, a man claims to prove this by squishing a nata de coco cube until it’s flat, and says that it’s plastic because he couldn’t tear it.

Similar videos also warn that children should stay away from nata de coco.

Illustrating that not everything we see online is true (including “experiment” videos on Youtube), Indonesia’s Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) on Saturday issued a statement on its website reassuring the public that nata de coco does not, in fact, contain plastic. 

“The thin cellulose layer, also commonly referred to as dietary fiber, is actually essential and important for the digestive system,” the statement reads.

“When squished, the liquid inside gets pushed out, leaving fiber strands that resemble a thin film. This thin film is the one that is said to be plastic.”

There you have it. Nata de coco is totally safe for you and your kids. For further peace of mind, here’s a video of how it’s made:

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