PNP, FDA to track down source of toxic ‘lambanog’
SAN PEDRO CITY, Laguna, Philippines — The number of fatalities in the outbreak of methanol poisoning from toxic “lambanog” (coconut wine) in Laguna and Quezon provinces has climbed to 16.
Eduardo Janairo, head of the Department of Health (DOH) in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon (Calabarzon), confirmed the death of another victim from Pagbilao town in Quezon who was believed to have ingested the toxic drink between Dec. 19 and 22.
According to the DOH, cases of suspected methanol poisoning were recorded in the towns of Pagbilao, Candelaria and Lucena City, all in Quezon.
Four people died in Candelaria while nine people in Rizal town and two in Nagcarlan town, both in Laguna, died.Poisonous chemical
Janairo said residents from these areas who may have ingested the lambanog kept coming to hospitals to seek medical help. “We still cannot say how far long this will go on,” he said.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said laboratory tests found “11.4 to 18.2 percent”of methanol, a poisonous chemical, in the lambanog samples taken after the outbreak.
The FDA also said the samples with high levels of methanol carried the brands or were sold by local stores, Rey Lambanog, Emma’s Lambanog and Orlando Mapa.
Janairo said the FDA, as a regulatory body, and the Philippine National Police and the local governments would have to take the necessary action to sanction the dealers.
The FDA urged local officials to require its license to operate from food establishments applying for business or mayor’s permit.
“This is what we are asking from our local governments. Please be extra careful in issuing mayor’s permit or business permit to establishments engaged in food business,”said Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo, also FDA officer in charge.
“We feel it’s very important, especially for products that are high risk — like alcoholic beverages, particularly those that are being done backyard, where the setup is not controlled, the process is not standardized,” he said.—Reports from Maricar Cinco and Tina G. Santos
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