The Ministry of Commerce on Friday strongly urged businessmen and companies to refrain from distributing counterfeit alcohol in the market amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The call comes after relevant ministries and institutions found more than 80 tonnes of methanol being sold across the Kingdom.
In a statement, the Ministry of Commerce said ministry officials, in cooperation with relevant authorities, have conducted quality checks on alcohol-based sanitisers being sold in the market. The checks revealed an excessive amount of methanol, a toxic substance, was used to produce the sanitisers.
“This issue does not only scam people out of their money but also pose serious risks on their health,” the ministry said, noting methanol is a poisonous alcohol variant which shares a similar appearance with isopropyl alcohol, which is used as a disinfectant.
The ministry said if inhaled or absorbed through the skin, methanol can cause headache, nausea, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, and diarrhoea. Prolonged exposure to the substance can lead to poisoning, brain damage and impaired vision.
“Should the ministry find any individual or company selling and distributing counterfeit alcohol, especially in this time of crisis, the ministry will take strong legal action,” the statement said.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thai could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Chhay Mouykeang, a resident in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Morn district, yesterday asked relevant institutions to take action against those selling counterfeit alcohol to protect the people’s well-being, as high demand for such products persists.
“Currently, we are worried about unknowingly buying counterfeit alcohol. Therefore, if the ministry has strict measures to eliminate the distribution of counterfeit alcohol and clear confirmation from relevant ministries recognising which of these products are good, I think it would do the public well,” she said.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Health’s Communicable Disease Control Department said authentic alcohol-based hand sanitisers bear ministry-issued seals.