For some reason, black food photographs so well.
Charcoal lattes, blackened croissants, goth ice cream – it all looks incredible, even if it doesnt taste dramatically different to the regular stuff.
In NYC, however, youll not find an #activeatedcharcoal drink or dish for love nor money, because the FDA has banned the ingredient from being added to recipes.
Restaurants have been forced to stop selling products made with charcoal.
In fact, Morgensterns Finest Ice Cream – the company responsible for that first viral black ice cream back in 2015 – has been forced to dump £3,000 (£2,261)-worth of product after the Department of Health ruled that Black Coconut Ash was no longer an acceptable ingredient.
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal is carbon that has been heated or treated to increase its absorptive power.
Its added to face masks, teeth whitening toothpastes and supplements, claiming to help cleanse us of toxins, beat bloating and cure hangovers.
The activation comes from oxidising charcoal; it has loads of small holes over the surface which makes it more porous and able to soak up more chemicals. It binds to certain drugs or poisons, stopping them from being absorbed into the gut. While there have been too few studies looking into the long-term health implications of consuming activated charcoal, we do know that this binding doesnt really work with alcohol – so you might be disappointed if youre relying on it as a hangover cure.
Theres also no evidence that regularly taking activated charcoal is helpful or beneficial to health. Our liver and kidneys do all the detoxing we need. And if you feel like you need more of a detox still, your best bet is to quit the booze and start eating more fruit and veg and drinking more water. You really shouldnt require much more of a flushing out.
So whats the big deal?
The stuff has traditionally been used in hospitals to stop poisons and lethal overdoses from being absorbed into the body and thats lead some wellness types to believe it as a natural detox when in fact, theres little evidence that it helps to detoxify the body when you havent consumed a tonne of recreational drugs.
But we do know that it can stop the body from absorbing medication and has been known to lead to dehydration and constipation.
In small doses, its believed to be harmless but adding charcoal to your latte certainly doesnt make it a more healthy drink.
So perhaps this is just a case of the FDA cracking down on dubious wellness claims.