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Hanoi Liquor Producer Closed, Staff Arrested After Deaths

After 6 people died last week from drinking methanol-laced rice wine from a Hanoi liquor producer, the distillery has been closed and its director has been arrested:

“Provincial health authorities said samples in two of the four cases contained 2,000 times more methanol than allowed.

Fifteen people were hospitalized sick or unconscious after consuming Ruou nep 29 Ha Noi (Hanoi 29’s glutinous rice wine).

Following the findings, authorities seized 6,000 bottles of the liquor, according to the Vietnam Food Administration.

The city Department of Industry and Trade said they found excessive contents of methanol in Hanoi 29's glutinous rice wine, red wine, and vodka.”

Nguyen Duy Vuong, 46, director of the Hanoi 29 Import Export Joint-stock Company and distillers, Tran Xuan Manh, 30, and Dang Van Canh, 36, were arrested by police in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

Tran Quang Trung, chief of the Vietnam Food Association, said that of Hanoi 29’s six alcoholic products, only one of them had been certified (and that certification expired last April).

This lack or regulation is a major problem for Vietnam’s beverage industry as only large produces are targeted for regular inspection:

“A representative of the Vietnam Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Association told Thanh Nien that alcoholic products are managed by four different agencies: the Department of Planning and Investment which issues their licenses, the Department of Industry and Trade which licenses alcohol production, the Department of Science and Technology which certifies labels, and the Department of Health which is in charge of quality.

Vietnam produces and consumes millions of liters of alcohol every year but authorities only supervise major producers since alcohol quality tests are expensive, he said.

Dr Nguyen Duy Thinh of the School of Biotechnology and Food Technology in Hanoi said the deaths could have been avoided if authorities properly oversee alcohol production and trade.”

Until Vietnam straightens out its consumer goods regulation practices (pipe dream?), many will probably do their best to avoid local brands.

Just don’t mess with our phở!

[Thanh Nien]

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