Filipino drinkers would know that there are more alcoholic drinks than are manufactured by the big-name breweries in the country and from abroad. There is of course the traditional production of palm wine or “tuba,” as well as other fermented drinks like the Ilocano “basi.” These days there also exist microbreweries that produce limited amounts of alcohol beverages for local distribution, usually stocked in bars found in major metropolitan areas. While these microbreweries try to hew to standards used by the bigger brewing companies, sometimes there are oversights that might lead to trouble, such as what the Cosmic Carabao gin is being subjected to now.
CNN Philippines reports that the Philippine Food and Drug Administration had given orders for Cosmic Carabao, a craft gin brewed by the Juan Brew microbrewery, to be confiscated following the death and serious condition of two drinkers. The confiscation order was made this Tuesday, July 9, after tests done by the FDA on collected samples of Cosmic Carabao gin revealed high amounts of methanol. An alcoholic chemical of similar odor to ethanol (found in drinking alcohol) but with more harmfully toxic effects on the body, methanol of the content levels found in the FDA test has been hypothesized by the administration as being deliberately added.
A statement concerning the potentially toxic consequences of drinking Cosmic Carabao was released by the FDA, which warns the public on “the consumption of the implicated product as this is currently unregistered and has been confirmed to contain a high level of methanol.” The steps undertaken by the agency began last month, when in June two women who were drinking the craft gin began vomiting and fainted. Both were rushed to the hospital but one eventually died while the other was left in a coma.
Juan Brew, the local microbrewery that manufactures the Cosmic Carabao, now stands to receive a heavy fine from the FDA and even a potential revocation of license, particularly since the craft gin was being sold without even an approved product registration. The range of penalties and liabilities could go all the way to even the restaurants and other businesses with Cosmic Carabao on stock. Each 750 ml bottle of the drink is priced by Juan Brew at P630. For now, the only statement by Juan Brew on the controversy was a July 3 Facebook entry that read, “We would like to emphasize that our company is dedicated to the highest standard in processing of our products and puts the health of our consumers above all.”
Methanol poisoning can cause heavy drowsiness, pain in the abdomen, vomiting and vision impairment. Severe symptoms can lead to convulsions and, in the case of the reported women victims, coma and death from respiratory failure.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News