What you need to know:
- Methanol is an industrial chemical which is mostly used to create fuel and as a solvent, antifreeze or denaturant for ethanol and in the synthesis of other chemicals, plastics, polyesters and other materials. Methanol is commonly used for diluting/dissolving wall paints and wood vanishes.
The City 5 gin that killed over a dozen people and left several others hospitalized was laced with excessive levels of methanol, the results from the Uganda National Bureau of Standards have confirmed.
Methanol is an industrial chemical which is mostly used to create fuel and as a solvent, antifreeze or denaturant for ethanol and in the synthesis of other chemicals, plastics, polyesters and other materials. Methanol is commonly used for diluting/dissolving wall paints and wood vanishes.
Mr David Livingstone Ebiru, the UNBS executive director said that based on results from the Laboratory Analysis, it is clear and likely that the cause of death for the people who consumed the City 5 was due to excessive adulteration of the Gin with Methanol which was found to be between 17 to 16,183 times far higher than the permissible level of 50 milligrams per litre (mg/L).
“It is likely that the perpetrators deliberately and illegally used Methanol as a cheaper alternative to increase the potency of the City 5 Gin, instead of Ethanol which is commonly used in making Alcoholic Beverages,” a statement from the UNBS reads in part.
Mr Ebiru, said while the Bureau had certified Luluwiri Fruit Wine to produce Semi-Sweet Still Table Pineapple Wine after undergoing conformity assessment, the same Luluwiri Fruit Wine failed the Laboratory Analysis certification of City 5 Pineapple flavoured Gin for having low alcohol content which was below 37.5% volume required of a Gin as per specifications of the standard.
“Therefore, the City 5 Gin had not yet been certified by UNBS for conformity to the relevant standards and therefore should have not been in production and for sale to the public,” he said.
Mr Ebiru said the Bureau together with Uganda Police inspected the Luluwiri Fruit Wine Factory and found 40 unmarked drums containing alcohol and eight filled jerrycans containing alcohol, from where eight samples were picked for laboratory analysis.
According to him, UNBS also picked two samples from a nearby facility called Dbtech Enterprises which had also applied for certification of another Gin called A-City and found six unmarked drums containing alcohol. He said UNBS had also not yet completed the conformity assessment for this product and was not allowed to be on the market.
“One Sample out of the two picked from Dbtech Enterprise was found to have been adulterated with excessive levels of Methanol above the maximum limit of 50 milligrams per litre (mg/L) specified in the standards.”
Mr Ebiru said unlike Ethanol, Methanol is not good for human consumption since it can easily be absorbed through the eyes, skin, lungs and digestive system, with its over-exposure causing death.
He said the suspects involved in the manufacture and sale of City5 Gin have been arrested and are in the custody of the Uganda Police Force. The police reports indicate that two others are on the run and are said to be hiding in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
He said the production facility has remained sealed and is suspended until further notice.