Dec. 24 (UPI) — At least 11 people died and hundreds more were sickened by methanol-poisoned coconut wine in the Philippines.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the government was “alarmed” over reports that more than 265 people were sickened and 11 died due to the batches of coconut wine known as lambanong with harmfully high methanol content.
“We remind the public that they should always check whether their alcohol purchases or any product that they consume for that matter, have been registered or approved by the Food and Drug Administration,” Panelo said.
Philippines Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III called for lambanong distillers to carefully monitor the levels of methanol in the drink.
“Lambanog poisoning is caused by residual methanol, which in high levels becomes highly toxic for humans. Methanol is a naturally occurring substance present during the distilling process, that should be separated and removed thereafter,” he said.
Lambanog distillery owner Fred Rey surrendered to authorities on Monday and pledged to pay for victims’ expenses.
The Laguna and Quezon provinces also ordered bans on the sale of the beverage.
Philippine Food and Drug Administration officials were sent to the municipality of Rizal to collect samples and investigate the poisoning incident.