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Three Vietnamese poisoned from wine with methanol content 1,000x over legal limit

Thursday, January 10, 2019, 18:01 GMT+7
Three Vietnamese poisoned from wine with methanol content 1,000x over legal limit
A doctor stands next to patients treated for beverage poisoning at a Vietnamese hospital in this photo illustration by Tuoi Tre.

The methanol content found in alcohol that poisoned three men in central Vietnam late last year had a methanol content of over a thousand times the legal limit, according to test results released by local food safety agency on Wednesday.

On December 25 last year, three unconscious men in Quang Tri Province were taken to a local hospital after drinking alcohol at a party two days earlier.

One of them was in critical condition and transferred to another infirmary but later died.

The local food department tested a sample of the wine and found that it exceeded the legal limit by 1,119 times.

Authorities seized stashes of homemade alcohol from vendors who supplied the party.

In Vietnam, black market wine makers sometimes mix pure rice with extra methanol and ethanol to increase its alcoholic content.

One of the three hospitalized victims, 48-year-old Nguyen Van Nhat, was saved by doctors at the Quang Tri General Hospital using an unorthodox approach - feeding him 15 cans of beer.

The method is meant to use ethanol in beer to stop the patient's liver from breaking down methanol in the methanon-tainted alcohol Nhat had consumed. 

When methanol is broken down, it releases formaldehyde, a highly toxic chemical compound that can be deadly when consumed in high levels. Meanwhile, ethanol does not lead to serious poisoning when it is broken down by the liver.

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Thai Xuan / Tuoi Tre News

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