Be careful when buying liquor
After a number of alcohol poisoning cases with hard spirits allegedly containing methanol, here's a few safety precaution tips
Jul 9, 2019
Recently, social media has been in a flurry over an alleged alcohol poisoning incident after two individuals were sent to the hospital from drinking local brewery Juan Brew’s Cosmic Carabao, a craft gin. According to these reports, the gin contained lethal amounts of methanol, similar to the deadly lambanog cases last December. (Read: The latest in lambanog poisoning cases: 3 dead after seller tries to prove it’s safe)
On Jul. 5, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement saying that they are currently investigating the matter, specifically pointing out that the gin is not registered under them.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of getting sick and even dying from food or alcohol poisoning endlessly terrifies me. It just takes one mistake, and not even yours: Maybe your favorite beverage company neglected health and safety standards just this one time, maybe your favorite restaurant unwittingly hired a Typhoid Mary-type employee, and you’re lying down in the hospital. Because of that, I think about ways to prevent it a lot.
Sure, if the spirit comes in a nondescript bottle from a sketchy seller, like in the previous lambanog cases, drinking it is almost tempting death. However, if the bottle you bought is from a seller you trust and carries the hallmarks of a trustworthy brand (they have a website! They use real art on the bottle!), it’s not so clean cut. Juan Brew is a famous craft brewery especially known for being solar-powered. As a consumer, your natural instinct is to take it for granted that their products are safe.
That’s why, no matter how trustworthy a product seems, your first course of action should always be to check if it’s registered with the FDA. Since low risk food products like alcohol or peanut butter don’t always have that information on their packaging, you’ll need to check in with the FDA website—just check their consumer corner, where they keep an extensive list of registered products. (If you’re too lazy to navigate the site yourself, you can always just Google this information, too.)
When it comes to alcoholic products maybe containing methanol, there’s a pretty well-known (if not always accurate) test for that. Called the flame test, it essentially involves taking a sample from the bottle and lighting it on fire. If the flame turns yellow instead of blue, the alcohol definitely contains methanol. However, even if the flame turns blue, there might still be a chance it has methanol in it, just not a large quantity. If this reminds you of a high school laboratory experiment, you’re right on the mark: It’s rooted in the popular rainbow flame experiment. Obviously, since this involves flames, be extremely cautious when doing this.
No matter what the FDA’s investigation might conclude with, there’s one undeniable fact: You should always exercise precaution when buying stuff you’re going to intake. You don’t want to be another cautionary tale.
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