BALIK PULAU, Feb 3 – The Health Ministry is still waiting for a complete report on the contents of a coffee mixture that is believed to contain a foreign substance, suspected of being a drug, for further action. Deputy Health minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said it would be a major offence if there were any illegal items in the coffee and that stringent action would be taken against the parties concerned.
“So far we have not received a complete report to enable us to take action. What we need to do is to compare the questionable coffee sample with another sample from the same brand obtained from an outlet. This is to determine if the questionable sample had been tampered with. It is our practice to take samples. If we find banned substances we will stop the sale,” he said at a press conference after officiating the Mobile Community Transformation Centre (CTC) at the state level, here today.
Yesterday, Timur Laut district police chief ACP Anuar Omar said the initial investigation of the police did not rule out the possibility that the pre-mixed coffee drinks, consumed by two Nepalese men, causing them to experience extreme fatigue, contained foreign substances suspected to be a type of drug.
Anuar said an analysis of the coffee sample by a food technology officer at the Penang Food Safety and Quality Laboratory found it contained a type of drug but had yet to ascertain its type. Currently, Dr Hilmi said there was no directive to stop the sale of the pre-mixed coffee but he urged the public against consuming it pending the report.
“Better to stop first. To date, there is no order to stop but the people themselves can understand. Maybe, somebody put a drug inside it. Not possible that a company which has been selling this item for a long time will place the drug there, it will affect its business. Maybe, its competitor did it resulting in problems like this,” he said.
Meanwhile, Penang Health Department director Dr Wan Mansor Hamzah, when contacted, said the department left it fully to the police since it was suspected that the pre-mixed coffee contained a drug. “We have lodged a police report on Feb 1 because the coffee allegedly contained drug. A sample of the coffee had been sent to the Chemistry Department and we are still waiting for a report,” he said.
Five individuals including two women were treated at the Penang Hospital after experiencing extreme fatigue and weakness while some also fainted after allegedly drinking the coffee from Sunday to Tuesday. The five, aged 19 to 62 years, were warded for observation and tests. Three were discharged after they recovered. — Bernama