Toxic level of methanol found in ‘lambanog’ samples from Laguna

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines – Samples of distilled coconut sap locally known as ‘lambanog’ from three stores in Rizal, Laguna have tested positive of having up to 11% to 18% methanol content.

This was revealed from the results of the laboratory tests conducted by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) following a series of methanol poisoning in Laguna and Quezon that claimed the lives of 15 individuals and endangered several others.

The samples acquired were from the brands, Rey Lambanog, Emma’s Lambanog, and the one being sold by Orlando Mapa Store.

FDA said such level of methanol in alcoholic beverages is highly toxic for human consumption because the normal level should not exceed 1% to be safe.

“Kasi nga nagfo-form ng acid sa katawan ang methanol dahil hindi siya nada-digest ng ating atay. At kapag tuloy- tuloy maaari talagang ikamatay,” explained FDA Officer in Charge Eric Domingo.

Domingo added that excessive consumption of methanol can damage a person’s digestive system and may cause blindness as it also targets the optic nerves.

Study reveals that once ingested, the human body changes methanol into formaldehyde and formic acid.

A buildup of formic acid inside the human body causes serious damage in the body’s central nervous system.

In the case of lambanog, consumption of at least 30ml with such high level of methanol is definitely fatal.

Because of the recent methanol poisoning, the FDA is requiring all manufacturers of alcoholic drinks to secure a license to operate and a certificate of product registration to ensure proper product handling and preparation before they go out in the market.

“May mga produkto kasi na high risk, kasama itong ating mga alcoholic beverage na kung maaari po huwag na tayong bibili at iinom ng mga hindi rehistrado sa FDA (Some products are considered high risk such as these alcoholic beverages. As much as possible, we discourage consumers to purchase and drink products which are not FDA registered),” Domingo advised.

“Kasi ibig sabihin hindi natin namo- monitor ito. Hindi natin alam kung saan gawa, kung paano gawa at mahirap po nating mabigyan ng assurance ng safety ang publiko, (Because without it, we cannot monitor as to where the product is being manufactured or how it is made. It would be impossible for us to provide the public the assurance of product safety),” he added.

The FDA reiterates that consumers must purchase only those food products and beverages licensed and approved by the agency. – MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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