Hanoi has launched a citywide campaign against alcohol of unknown origin amidst a growing number of alcohol-related methanol poisonings in the Vietnamese capital.
The campaign will start Thursday and last for one month, during which local eateries and distillers will be subject to thorough inspections and any alcohol found without requisite papers proving its origin will be confiscated.
All impounded alcohol will then be put through lab testing to establish whether or not it meets food safety standards.
The results of such testing will then be used to determine appropriate penalties for the violating eateries and distillers, according to Hanoi’s administration.
The municipal Department of Health and the Department of Industry and Trade are responsible for drafting regulations regarding the penalties for such violations and are expected to submit the first draft of the proposed penalties to the People’s Committee of Hanoi for review no later than March 31.
The campaign is the second of its kind launched this year by the administration of Hanoi.
According to Tran Van Chung, deputy director of the municipal Department of Health, almost 1,600 local businesses have been inspected since March 3, resulting in nearly 20,000 liters of confiscated alcohol, 140 liters of which have already been destroyed.
Violating businesses were fined a combined total of VND500 million (US$22,300).
Since February 22, 22 people have been hospitalized in the Vietnamese capital for alcohol-related methanol poisoning, three of whom have died.
Hanoi reported the second-highest number of methanol poisoning cases among Vietnamese provinces and cities in the first two months of 2017.
Low-cost alcohol in Vietnam is typically made using methanol, a dangerous and toxic substance used in paint production which can be extremely harmful if consumed, according to Nguyen Trung Nguyen, a senior doctor at Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi.
Victims of methanol-tainted alcohol only begin to show signs of poisoning one or two days after consumption, already too late for many to recover.
Those lucky enough to survive might suffer serious sequelae in the brain and eyes, the expert added.