San Jose, Costa Rica

On July 5, 2019 the Ministry of Health issued its first warning concerning suspected cases of methanol poisonings in late June. In a Judicial filing released on July 12, 2019, The Ministry reported that they are investigating at least 8 deaths related to a methanol poisoning outbreak which includes the death of 6 men and 2 women between the ages of 43 to 66. Along with the deaths there are an unconfirmed number of patients who are being treated at several hospitals.

After positive methanol tests on specific brands mentioned by the victims the Ministry of Health has issued warnings not to sell or consume, Aguardiente Barón Rojo, an unregistered brand, and the registered brands of Guaro Montano, Aguardiente Timbuka and Molotov Aguardiente.

Tainted Aguardiente Costa Rica
Aguardiente Brands in the tainted alcohol warning from the Costa Rican Health Ministry Alert

Dr. Daniel Salas, Minister of Health is quoted in the filed criminal complaint. ““Attracted by the General Health Law and to safeguard the population, we Proceeded to file the complaint with the Public Ministry. With the support of evidence, such as laboratory tests that confirm adulteration with methanol. Will be up to the court Authorities to carry out the appropriate investigation to determine the criminal liability

The criminal complaint was filed so that Fiscal Control Police can continue to confiscate the named brand liquors from any establishment that is still stocking and selling them to the general public.

In a strongly worded statement issued on July 10, 2019 to the general population from the Ministry of Health it states:

  • Do not consume the product called “Red Baron” since it does not Have Sanitary Registry.
  • Do not consume or purchase “Guaro Montano”, “Timbuka brandy” or “Molotov brandy” if it is not guaranteed to be the Original product without contaminating or Until the health alert is lifted.
  • Do not sell “Guaro Montano”, “Timbuka brandy” or “Molotov brandy” if it is not guaranteed to be the Original product without contaminating or Until the alert is lifted.
  • Immediately report to the Ministry of Health at the email [email protected] if You have presented a picture of methanol poisoning with adulterated liquor or spirits of the names of the products of others or Indicated here. The symptoms are: abdominal pain acute, acute headache and ataxia (lack of coordination of body movements).
  • Report to the Ministry of Health, by email [email protected] Those establishments or persons and companies suspected of marketing adulterated liquor or spirits.

The Ministry of Health continues its investigation, directed confiscations and ban on consuming the named brands. All registered name brand liquor is produced by The National Liquor Factory (FANAL) A Division of the National Production Council (Consejo Nacional de Producción) (CNP). FANAL was established as a National Institution in 1850 in response to the proliferation of adulterated alcohol at that time.

Popular #Aguardiente #Liquor brands in #CostaRica may have #MethanolAlcohol per the Health Ministry. Be on ALERT #DrinkSafe Click to Tweet

Since its inception FANAL has produced all ethyl alcohol for Costa Rica. FANAL produces ethyl alcohol for its liquors, medical uses, and industrial uses from sugar cane, a major crop of Costa Rica. With a state-of-the-art facility that was built in the early 1980’s and continues to utilize the latest technologies, FANAL prides itself on using “in its drinks a certified high-purity ethyl alcohol and 100% guarantees its potability”.

In response to the branded liquors produced by FANAL named by the Ministry of Health in the latest outbreak of methanol poisoning, Rogis Cascante, executive president of the CNP released a statement. “We have known for a long time that there are contraband liquor factories and that dirty or methyl alcohol is entering the borders, He went on to cite that FANAL is in possession of more than 200 barrels of tainted liquor that has been confiscated at the borders. “The consumption of liquor of dubious origin is a public health problem, since in the end it is the CCSS and the Ministry of Health that have to incur many expenses for the care of patients due to its serious consequences……. What is difficult is to identify where the bottling plants are located … That is why we must coordinate with the Ministry of Health and also the municipalities to reach these places and achieve seizures,”

Guaro Montano Aguardiente
Guaro Montano brand aguardiente is on the warning from the Health Ministry for Methanol alcohol.

Mr. Cascante reiterated that FANAL is the only legal entity licensed to distill alcohol for both human consumption and industrial use. He concluded his statement by reinforcing the message of the enterprise that Costa Rican’s should always drink in moderation. “We as an institution do not encourage the consumption of liquor, but the function of Fanal is to regulate the production of quality liquor that does not affect the health of people.”

Meanwhile in continuous released statements to the public, the Health Ministry called on people to help alleviate the problem by reporting known establishments that import and sell tainted alcohol. The Acting Director of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Health, Ronald Chinchilla reminded people of the law, “According to the General Health Law, those who sell or store these types of products “are exposed to having their health permit canceled and their commercial establishment closed,

The Ministry of Health in conjunction with enforcement agencies are actively seeking the adulterated liquor while reminding people of the symptoms of methanol poisoning. The Health Ministry said that symptoms of methanol poisoning may not appear immediately. They include acute abdominal pain, acute headache and ataxia (lack of coordination of body movements). The Ministry also quoted WHO (World Health Organization), ““After a variable period of time, victims start to develop headache, vomiting, abdominal pain and vertigo. They may start to hyperventilate and feel breathless,

Although they are still awaiting autopsy results to confirm that the 8 deaths were caused by methanol poisoning, the Ministry is confident in the positive results obtained from testing various bottles of the named brands leading to their sales ban. It reminded the citizens that none of these brands should be consumed unless you are sure that they authentic and produced by FANAL.

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