Methanol poisoning: Health Ministry tracking down source as deaths hit 45

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks during the National Regulatory Conference 2018 in Damansara October 2, 2018. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks during the National Regulatory Conference 2018 in Damansara October 2, 2018. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

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PETALING JAYA, Oct 2 ― The Health Ministry is looking to find the source of methanol-tainted commercial liquor in the market as the number of fatalities climb to 45 nationwide.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the number of recorded deaths from methanol poisoning as at noon yesterday is 45 from a total of 98 cases reported.

“Selangor recorded 64, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya 18, Perak 13 and Negri Sembilan three,” he told reporters after attending the National Regulatory Conference 2018 here.

Of the deaths, he said 26 were from Selangor, 14 from Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, four from Perak and one from Negri Sembilan.

A total of 15,630 bottles of liquor have also been confiscated from 1,961 premises across the country.

Dzulkefly said the key now was to investigate the source of the supply, whether it was produced domestically or imported, to prevent further poisoning cases.

“Our enforcement has to seriously looking into how it got into the market.

“It's not definite, whether it is coming from the outside or inside. We cannot confirmed yet,” the minister said.

However, he noted that those who bought the tainted products were mostly migrant workers.

Methanol, the simplest form of alcohol, is present in small quantities in wine and beer, but toxic levels of it can be found in home-brewed spirits due to less sophisticated distillation systems compared to commercial brands.

The minister advised people to be more careful when consuming alcoholic drinks by checking the labels to make sure they are not bootleg products.

Pirated versions of Kingfisher beer were found to be among the affected brands in the market.

*An earlier version of the story listed the total number of cases reported as 95 instead of 98. The error has since been rectified.

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