After another rice-wine poisoning case in Kampot province killed at least seven people, provincial authorities say residents need to stop buying wine that does not meet proper technical standards.
Sin Koeu, police chief in Chhuk district’s Doun Yay commune, said on Thursday evening that so far seven people had died from suspected wine poisoning.
Kampot provincial police chief Mao Chanmathurith said on Wednesday that much of the drinking happened at a funeral on Sunday. Police had since searched the facility where the rice wine was produced, but the owner had already fled, he said.
Authorities were searching for the wine producer to be punished under the law, Chanmathurith said.
“The person who produced the rice wine will face legal action because the wine in the facility was produced without following proper technical standards,” he said. “The rice wine was found to contain high levels of methanol, which caused poisoning.”
More than 20 people have already died in Kampot in two previous rice-wine poisoning incidents this year, part of more than 50 deaths from similar cases around the country. Wine makers have said that adding methanol — or even insecticides — is common practice for cost-cutting and adding a stronger kick to the wine.
Nha Bunthorn, director of the Kampot provincial health department, called on people to stop consuming rice wine produced without proper technical standards.
“Wine without a clear source and rice wine that is illegally produced in villages and districts are not good. It affects health. Please be careful,” Bunthorn said.
Yong Kim Eng, director of the People’s Center for Development and Peace, said businesses making bad wine should be shut down. But the government also needed better legislation, standards and checks to make sure the industry was safe.
“We have to implement the Alcohol Law as soon as possible so that the provincial or local authorities can use it to prevent such incidents from happening again,” Kim Eng said.