Nata de Coco, Is It Halal?

The term “nata” comes from Spanish which means floating. This is in accordance with its nature since it has been observed from the initial process of the formation of nata, it is a thin layer floating on the surface that gets longer and thicker (Saputra, 2009). This type of food is similar to kolang-kaling, usually nata de coco is used as a dessert. These foods can also be used as sweets, fillers of ice cream, yogurt, jelly, and gelatin. Usually white to clear, because it is made from coconut water fermentation. Originally made in the Philippines, which was a Spanish colony. (HalalMUI)

According to Professor of IPB in Agroindustry and Bioindustry, Prof. Dr. Ir. Khaswar Syamsu, M.Sc., nata de coco is a pure microbial cellulose product. As with other microbial products, the main ingredient as a source of nutrition for microbes to form microbial products is a source of carbon and a source of nitrogen. Other ingredients in small amounts are vitamins and minerals commonly called trace elements to maximize microbial cell growth and the formation of desired products. The microorganism responsible for converting these nutrients into microbial cellulose is the bacterium Acetobacter xylinum which is put into the production medium in the form of nata starter.

In the process of making nata de coco, carbon sources come from coconut water added with granulated sugar to increase the concentration of carbon sources. Aside from being a source of carbon, coconut water also supplies the trace elements needed for the growth of the bacterium Acetobacter xylinum. Whereas as a nitrogen source it usually comes from urea or ammonium sulfate. In addition, acetic acid is also added to regulate the acidity of the media so that the pH of the media ranges at optimum pH at a pH of 3-5 to maximize microbial growth and production of nata de coco. The ingredients of these nutrients are consumed by the bacterium Acetobacter xylinum for growth and produce products in the form of microbial cellulose, as well as plants that absorb urea or ZA fertilizers.

If the carbon and nitrogen sources are supplied according to their quantities, all carbon and nitrogen sources will be absorbed, so that microbial cellulose products in the form of nata de coco will certainly no longer contain sugar as a source of carbon and urea or ammonium sulfate as a nitrogen source. However, if not absorbed all or not fully consumed by Acetobacter xylinum microbes, it will certainly produce residues in the form of residual substrates, both carbon sources and nitrogen sources. However, the residue or residual residue of this substrate will generally dissolve and disappear in the downstream process in the production process of nata de coco in the form of cleaning, boiling, soaking and washing so that the final product of nata de coco no longer contains the carbon and nitrogen source residue used. The factory which is generally in the form of a small and medium-sized business simply verifies through checking the remaining acetic acid or vinegar. If nata de coco still tastes or smells sour, it means that the washing process has not yet completely eliminated the remaining residual substrate or growth media. (HalalMUI)

When viewed from the element of food security (thayyiban), nata de coco is very safe for consumption, because it is purely derived from microbial cellulose. Nata de coco products that come out of the factory and are sold are pure microbial cellulose products without carrying a substrate or media used for bacterial growth and product formation. For consumption, this clean, pure microbial cellulose is cut into pieces, and then later syrup and other additives are added, such as flavor.

The urea or ammonium sulfate as a nitrogen source which is feared to contaminate nata de coco products, in general, will be consumed by microbes for growth as plants consume urea or ammonium sulfate (ZA fertilizer) as fertilizer. The residue of sugar, urea or ammonium sulfate, and vinegar, even if there is still remaining, usually will dissolve and be washed in the downstream process of the production of nata de coco. This can be easily checked through laboratory tests to determine the content of urea or ammonium sulfate remaining in the nata de coco product.

How about the heavy metal rumored in the nata de coco? Theoretically, there is no source of heavy metals in the production process of nata de coco. This can also be easily checked in the laboratory to ascertain the heavy metal content present in pure nata de coco. Even if there are found heavy metals in nata de coco, then the possibility of this comes from the contamination of materials or equipment for making nata de coco by heavy metals, which can come from water sources, nitrogen sources, or metal equipment used. (HalalMUI)

As for the terms of halalness, the Halal Audit Services Advisor the Assessment Institute for Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, the Indonesian Council of Ulama (LPPOM MUI), Dr. Ir. Mulyorini R. Hilwan, M.Sc, said that in its manufacture, nata de coco needs to be considered the sources of carbon and nitrogen ingredients, namely sugar and urea.

1. Sugar

Sugar, the haram critical point is in the auxiliary ingredients of the sugar making process. That is if an enzyme is used in refined sugar made from raw sugar. Enzymes can be sourced from vegetable, animal or microbial.

It needs to be observed if the enzyme is from the animal, what is the source of the animal and how to slaughter it. As for microbial enzymes, it must be ensured that process media and auxiliary materials do not come from haram and unclean ingredients.

If you use activated carbon sugar bleach, you must ensure the source of the active carbon material. Activated carbon is called halal if it comes from coal or vegetable, for example, wood. Whereas if the activated carbon is from bones, it must be ascertained in advance what source of animal bones and how to slaughter them.

In making sugar, ion resin auxiliary materials are sometimes used. To confirm this, the resin does not use gelatin from unclean animals as a dispersant agent.

2. Urea

Urea is used as a nitrogen source, derived from chemicals, so it is not critical. However, in the downstream process of nata de coco products, it must be ensured that the nata products are completely clean before further processing for consumption.

3. Glacial acetic acid

Used to make acidic pH conditions so that it is the same as acetobacter xylium. Sour taste will be attached to the product, so washing is needed for nata products. By cleaning up the remnants of acetic acid that is attached will make the aroma of nata become normal. (HalalMUI)

Nata de Coco Good for Health

Nata de coco is a health food that is rich in fiber, but low in calories. Nata de coco contains about 98% water, 0,2% fat, 0,012% calcium, 0,002% phosphorus, and vitamin B3 0,0017% (Nurheni et al., 1990). This product has high fiber content, including cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and water-soluble fiber.

Benefits of Nata de Coco

  1. Lower cholesterol.
  2. Reducing blood glucose in diabetics.
  3. Prevent constipation.
  4. Control your weight (prevent obesity).
  5. Prevent colon cancer.
  6. Useful in the microflora in the large intestine.

Negative Effects of Nata de Coco

In addition to various benefits, Nata de coco can also have a negative effect on consumers when mixed with sugar syrup or excess sweetener. One of them is increasing the risk of diabetes. Soaking nata de coco before consumption can reduce the sugar content in it.


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