HANOI, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam has raised public awareness on food safety after seven people died of methanol poisoning in the northern mountainous Lai Chau province on Tuesday.
According to the test result by the National Institute for Food Control on Thursday, three alcohol samples taken by Lai Chau Sub-department of Food Safety and Hygiene at the site where the food poisoning happened have respective methanol levels at 970 mg/dl, 550,000 mg/dl and 475,000 mg/dl.
In comparison, the national technical regulations for alcoholic products and the national standards for white wine state that the level of methanol in alcohols should not surpass 100 mg/dl.
Earlier on last Friday, a 60-year-old man from Ha Nhi ethnic minority, died suddenly after consuming rice and home-made alcohol at a family party in Ma Ly Chai commune, in Lai Chau's Phong Tho district. He had complained of a headache and nausea.
Many villagers attended the three-day funeral. As of Monday evening, a number of attendees complained of similar symptoms.
According to Lai Chau Health Department, as of Thursday, the total number of poisoning cases reaches 37, with seven deaths. All the poisoned are receiving treatment at different levels of medical facilities in the province.
In a related move, on Wednesday, as many as 81 people were hospitalized for food poisoning in Hoang Su Phi district, Vietnam's northern Ha Giang province after having meals at a wedding party.
Amid the situation, the Ministry of Health (MoH)'s Food Safety and Hygiene Department on Thursday warned people of abuse of alcoholic drinks. In order to prevent alcoholic poisoning, local health experts advised people to say no to industrial alcohol and those wines with methanol level surpassing 0.1 percent as it can cause blindness and death.
According to the MoH, from 2011 to 2016, as many as 1,000 cases of food poisoning were recorded, affecting 30,000 people, and resulting in 164 deaths. On average, 170 food poisoning involving 5,000 people and 30 deaths take place every year.
The ministry blamed the food poisoning on rampant abuse of chemicals, antibiotics and illegal additives in food production, cross-border smuggling of food and flawed use of food origin identification and quality labels.