Duterte orders probe on deaths due to coconut wine

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PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte has ordered an investigation on the recent mass poisoning due to coconut wine, locally called lambanog, according to Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra.

In a message to reporters on Friday, Mr. Guevarra said he has received an order from the Palace asking the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the high number of casualties relating to the drink, with 12 reported deaths and almost 500 falling ill.

“The president ordered the NBI to investigate the alleged lambanog poisoning incidents and to submit a report thereon immediately,” Mr Guevarra said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday said it tested seven lambanog products sold in Rizal, Laguna and five were found to have high levels of methanol, a natural by-product of fermenting coconut wine, but is toxic if consumed in high volume.

Methanol poisoning could lead to permanent blindness, neurological problems, or even death.

Both Malacañang and FDA have advised the public to buy only FDA-approved products.

There are 14 lambanog drinks that have an FDA registration. — Gillian M. Cortez