By Analou de Vera and Danny Estacio
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday said that “high levels of methanol” were found in samples of the coconut wine, popularly known as “lambanog,” that were recently consumed by some individuals which reportedly led to their deaths and made them fall ill.
“The Food and Drug Administration received information that multiple deaths have occurred purportedly resulting from the consumption of the alcoholic beverage, lambanog. The FDA, in coordination with the Department of Health- Epidemiology Bureau, and the concerned local government units, immediately secured samples of these products for product verification and laboratory analysis, and have confirmed that they are not registered, and contain high levels of the substance ‘methanol,’” stated the FDA in Advisory No. 2018-325 that was released Friday.
The FDA stated that the consumption of high amounts of methanol “poses adverse effects like blindness and permanent neurologic dysfunction, among others, and may even lead to death.”
The agency urged the public to be cautious in purchasing or consuming the coconut-based alcoholic drink and advised to only purchase those which are registered with the FDA.
“Products that are not registered with the FDA pose potential health hazards to the consuming public since they have not gone through the agency’s evaluation and testing, thus, the FDA cannot guarantee their quality and safety,” the agency added.
Fourteen persons from Quezon City and Laguna have reportedly died after drinking lambanog.
The latest fatalities were six persons from Calamba City, Laguna.
Laguna police director Sr. Supt. Eleazar Matta identified the fatalities as Jonathan Maligaya Barceta, 36,single, a former lifeguard who died on Nov. 29; Jesus Olanday, who died on Dec. 1; Roderick Victoria Martinez, 38, married, construction worker, Dec. 2; Cornelio Balahadia Opulencia, 58, fisherman, Dec. 3; Nestor Villanueva Mancay, 63, single, fisherman, Dec. 5, and Felipe Eresga Guevarrra, 62, Dec. 6, who are all residents of Barangay Sucol.
The victims reportedly experienced severe stomach pain after consuming the intoxicating drink with the brand name “Bossing Pure Lambanog Tumador” purchased from neighborhood convenience stores.
Authorities were able to recover samples of the drink to be submitted to the Food and Drugs Administration for toxicology examination.