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CCF: Tainted rice, herbal wine behind Kampot deaths

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A rice wine-making site in Kampot province’s Chhouk district on July 27. CCF

CCF: Tainted rice, herbal wine behind Kampot deaths

Laboratory test results of tainted wine that killed five people in Kampot province in late July confirmed that there were deadly levels of methanol in the beverage, according to the Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression (CCF).

A CCF official at the provincial branch told The Post on August 3 that 12 out of 22 rice and herbal wine samples contained high levels of methanol.

The five people died while 14 others survived wine poisoning last week in Chhouk district’s Doun Yay commune after consumption began on July 26.

CCF Kampot branch manager Soth Naroeun told The Post on August 3 that results from the samples taken from the commune revealed methanol levels between 10.9 and 18.6 per cent, which could be fatal if drunk.

“Generally, alcoholic beverages that are safe to drink must contain no more than 0.2 per cent methanol. But the rice and herbal wine samples we collected from Doun Yay commune had levels ranging from 10.9 to 18.6 per cent,” he said.

“This can cause death or chronic illness if people with a heart condition or hypertension consumed more than 15ml,” he added.

According to Naroeun, methanol has industrial uses such as in paint and for panelling. It causes skin irritation, headaches, inflammation of the airways, and especially stomach ulcers.

Lok Nhav, deputy chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, said the two people who sold the wine had been sent to court for legal action.

Provincial court spokesman Kha Denna confirmed to The Post on August 3 that the two suspects were placed in pre-trial detention on August 2 on charges of “committing fraud in relation to goods, services or false claims, punishable under Article 43 of the Law on Consumer Protection”.

Kampot province tackled three cases of alcohol poisoning in the last three months, with 18 deaths and 150 becoming ill.

The provincial administration has banned sales and production of rice and herbal wine throughout the province to prevent the consumption of wine with high levels of methanol, which could lead to death.

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