MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it is now investigating reports of poisoning cases allegedly caused by the ingestion of coconut wine or lambanog in Laguna.
DOH data showed that 265 individuals from Rizal town in Laguna have fallen ill after drinking lambanog.
Of this number, 66 were brought to the Philippine General Hospital for treatment and observation. Forty-nine of them are male between 13 to 65 years old.
The DOH said all had history of lambanog ingestion between December 19 to 22.
Sixty-two other affected individuals were brought to the East Avenue Medical Center, 82 were taken to Rizal Medical Center, 13 to Quirino Memorial Medical Center and 42 to Batangas Medical Center for medical management.
The DOH assured it is on top of the issue as it continues to investigate the alleged lambanog poisoning.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has repeatedly issued warnings to lambanog brewers over its high methanol content, and urged the public to exercise extreme caution in purchasing and consuming the alcohol beverage.
It also advised the public to only buy lambanog brews that are registered with the FDA.
“Lambanog poisoning is caused by residual methanol, which in high levels becomes highly toxic for humans. Methanol is a naturally occurring substance present during the distilling process, that should be separated and removed thereafter,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
“I urge everyone to avoid drinking alcoholic drinks this holiday season. Let us stay sober as we celebrate the festivities with our families and loved ones,” he added.
The DOH chief said that FDA regulatory inspectors have been deployed to Rizal, Laguna to collect samples, and investigate the alleged poisoning incident. Teams have also been dispatched to different health facilities where affected individuals were referred.