The General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention (CCF) has launched a nationwide campaign to inspect the production of rice wine and educate citizens about using methanol in wine products. This initiative followed more than 30 deaths connected to rice wine poisoning in Kampong Chhnang, Kampot and Kandal provinces in May.

CCF director-general Phan Oun told The Post on June 14 that the campaign will highlight the dangers of methanol in rice and herbal wines, and is not limited to those provinces affected by alcohol poisoning.

“In general, rice wine products that are produced by families using traditional techniques do not cause serious health problems if methanol is not added. A series of deaths and illnesses caused by alcohol and herbal wine in May were caused by high levels of methanol,” Oun said.

He said the campaign aims to educate people who produce rice wine to understand the dangers of using methanol in wine products and avoid using the chemical.

It also aims to investigate the techniques employed by small-scale traditional wineries in each province and assess the quality of rice and herbal wines in each area. Finally, a record will be compiled for the benefit of scholars to research Cambodian wine making.

Oun added that at the end of June, CCF’s general department will announce the results of this campaign and the test results on wine samples collected by the working group from the capital and provinces throughout the country.

CCF Mondulkiri branch manager Nal Vichet told The Post on June 14 that the campaign has been running in Sen Monorom town since June 11, where the specialist team collected samples of rice wine from 7 wineries in the town. The wine’s quality will be tested and evaluated the department’s laboratory in Phnom Penh.

“The team is also educating winery owners and wine dealers in some towns and districts about the risks of using methanol in the wine industry,” said Vichet.

However, whether rice wine products in Mondulkiri province, which have attracted national and international tourists in the past, contain high levels of methanol or not is not known yet.

The CCF’s laboratory has not yet announced the Sen Monorom results.