The Health Ministry has asked people to be careful when purchasing rice wine for Chinese New Year to avoid negative health effects following two deaths and more than ten cases of poisoning from rice wine consumption in 2017.
Chinese New Year takes place next week from February 15 to 17. The communicable disease control department recommended that people buy rice wine that has a clearly marked origin and has been checked by expert officials.
Department director and Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann said yesterday that rice wine was still one of the main food and beverages that occasionally caused illness or death.
“Rice wine should be consumed in moderation or completely avoided if possible,” he said.
“Some rice wines are mixed with methanol to make it stronger, but it can affect people’s health, causing illness or even death. People who buy rice wine really need to check it thoroughly.”
Rice wine consumption can affect the liver, kidneys and brain, and in the case of consuming rice wine mixed with methanol, it may cause poisoning, including symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, difficulty breathing, exhaustion and unconsciousness, and can lead to death, according to Mr Sovann.
“The Health Ministry is working closely with relevant ministries to find places to advertise to educate people about the risks of wine consumption,” he said.
According to a report by the communicable disease control department, there were 13 cases of rice wine poisoning in 2017, one of which caused two deaths in Mondulkiri province.
In 2016, there were 92 cases of rice wine poisoning and 15 deaths in Kampong Chhnang province. In 2015, there were 284 cases of rice wine poisoning and 33 deaths in Thbong Khmum, Kratie and Mondulkiri provinces.
Earlier this month, Health Minister Mam Bun Heng called on people across the country to be careful when eating food, especially to watch out for sick or dead poultry to prevent the spread of H5N1, or bird flu.
“We must be careful because in general, bird flu has always occurred in the cold season and Chinese New Year is approaching, so there is more demand for meat,” he said.
“So please be careful, dead poultry has to be buried not sold. If many birds are found dead, a veterinarian must be informed to prevent the spread to more animals or people.”
There have been recent outbreaks of H5N1 in the provinces of Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom and Mondulkiri, as well as in Phnom Penh, but no case of human infection has been found.