The Ministry of Health has issued a warning to vendors and the public to stop buying, selling and drinking rice wine and traditional herbal rice wine produced without specific sources, especially methanol-based rice wines.

The warning came after a string of 44 poisoning cases related to the Chinese alcohol brand Tang Kouy that has killed seven people in Banteay Meanchey province.

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng on Saturday instructed provincial and city governors across the country to urge vendors to absolutely stop trading in rice wine or herbal rice wine that is made or mixed without identified ingredients.

“To avoid poisoning, people should stop drinking rice wine and herbal rice wine which is made without a clear source and proper technical standards,” he said.

The warning came after the ministry’s laboratory revealed that the analysis of a sample of Tang Kouy Chinese herbal rice wine that had been collected from victims in three different locations was found to contain a concentration of methanol from 13.5 per cent to 15.1 per cent.

Methanol is a substance produced by chemical synthesis or patches of wood. It is usually used in various industries.

Banteay Meanchey provincial health department director Le Chan Sangvat told The Post that some poisoning victims admitted to the Malai district referral hospital and the Poipet referral hospital in Banteay Meanchey experienced nausea, vomiting, chest pain, blurry eyes, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

“Severe alcohol intoxication can make patients more vulnerable to systemic disabilities or even death,” he said.

Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities have seized 13,876 litres of the herbal rice wine in the province, including 96,333 litres from the market in Poipet, 3,580 litres, 591 litres and 72 litres from Malai district, Serey Sophorn city and Thma Puok district respectively, said San Vichea Saravuth, the director of the Banteay Meanchey provincial Camcontrol department, on Sunday.

“Camcontrol has already discovered that the manufacturer of the rice wine is in Phnom Penh. The authorities are proceeding with the case,” he said.

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