From June 2020 to early July of this year, 70 people died from rice and herbal wine poisoning nationwide, according to a report of the General-Directorate of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression (CCF) on July 12.
The report revealed that in June 2020, seven people died from drinking the Tang Kuoy brand of rice wine in Banteay Meanchey province’s Malai district.
Dong quai, also known as female ginseng or by its botanical name Angelica sinensis, is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine which, according to Australian naturopathic clinician Angela Hywood, is used to regulate menstrual cycles and is overall regarded as a “female reproductive tonic”.
In November, 15 people died from consuming rice wine in Kampong Chhnang province’s Teuk Phos district.
In May of this year, 14 people in Kandal province’s Lvea Em district. And in Kampot province’s Kampong Trach district, 10 people also died from drinking poisoned rice and herbal wine.
In June, seven people in Pursat province’s Krakor district and four in Prey Veng province’s Pea Reang district died from poisoning.
The report noted that at the beginning of this month, there were 10 deaths in Svay Tong Kang Tbong commune’s Koh Chwang village of Kampot province’s Kampong Trach district and three deaths in Koh Choram commune’s Leu village of Kandal province’s Khsach Kandal district.
Citing an assessment by the World Health Organisation, CCF deputy director-general Dim Theng told The Post on July 12 there were more than three million fatalities related to alcohol consumption, or about five per cent of the world’s total deaths.
Theng said some of the deaths were caused by methanol poisoning, a toxic chemical additive that was used to enhance the potency of products but was illegal.
“Methanol poisoning is common in many countries in the world and has serious health and socio-economic impacts. Alcohol poisoning in Cambodia also happens frequently, especially in the suburbs,” he said.
Theng said there are two scenarios that could lead to alcohol poisoning –the use of “alcoholic fermentation” to produce retail wine and increase profits, and the distribution of counterfeit alcohol in the context of Covid-19.
A CCF report on May 31 showed that from 2016 to 2020 there were four consecutive cases of rice wine poisoning in Pursat, Kratie, Banteay Meanchey and Kampong Chhnang provinces, leaving 28 people dead and hundreds hospitalised.
According to the report, alcohol is a substance that is harmful to the health of regular consumers and can be life-threatening if it is not produced properly, such as adding methanol or other toxic substances.