FDA records 21 deaths from lambanog

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - December 9, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A total of 21 persons were documented to have died after consuming lambanog or coconut wine containing high levels of methanol this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported yesterday.

Based on the report obtained by The STAR, the lambanog consumed by 44 victims came from “multiple establishments in Luzon.” Sixteen of the 44 who were poisoned came from Barangay Tambo in Capas, Tarlac. Four of them died after drinking lambanog on Nov. 19.

There were five cases in Barangay Pooc in Santa Rosa, Laguna on Dec. 5, three of whom died.

Four cases were reported in MHA Site 3, Barangay Sto. Tomas in Calauan, Laguna, including three deaths. 

Three cases were recorded each in Sitio Buhanginan in Tagbak, Barangay San Jose, Antipolo City, Rizal and Interior Bala street, in Barangay San Diego, Luisiana, Laguna  on May 8 and Aug. 25, respectively. There were two deaths in each locality.

Ten cases were reported in Novaliches, Quezon City, including four deaths. There were three cases – all of whom died – in Barangay Sucol, Calamba City, Laguna on Dec. 6.

The FDA found that the lambanog products’ methanol levels ranged from 6.5 percent to 21.8 percent.

With regards to the 10 recent cases in Novaliches, the report showed “no samples forwarded to FDA as no collection was done by the RESU (regional surveillance unit).” All samples were confiscated by the Quezon City police.

The FDA was able to collect samples of the “Bossing Tomador” brand in Barangay Sucol in Calamba City, Laguna. Three bottles contained methanol ranging from 6.6 percent to 8.9 percent.

In an advisory, FDA director general Nela Charade Puno advised the public to “exercise extreme caution in purchasing or consuming the alcoholic beverage lambanog.” She said only products that registered with the agency should be patronized.

Puno said ingestion of high amounts of methanol could lead to blindness and permanent neurologic dysfunction, among others, and even death.

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