The Rwanda Food and Drug Authority (FDA) has recalled from the market Merry Cane, a locally manufactured gin over issues of high methanol content in it.
A statement from the FDA released Thursday, August 15 said that the decision was made due to the effects the drink had on some people who consumed it and later proven by subsequent laboratory tests.
The authority did not specify which effect the gin had on those who consumed it.
FDA says it also carried out an inspection on the factories of Rwanda Bottlers’ Company – the manufacturer of the gin and closed it.
“Rwanda FDA has suspended the circulation, sale, and consumption of the above-mentioned drink,” read FDA’s statement directed to all alcohol sellers, suppliers, and Rwandan citizens.
The retailers of the gin were asked to return it to their wholesalers. The FDA ordered the wholesalers to receive the items returned to them, and submit a report about it to the FDA before ten days pass.
According to the World Health Organisation, methanol has a relatively low intrinsic toxicity, however, it is metabolised to highly toxic compounds, which can cause blindness, coma and metabolic disturbances that can be life-threatening.
Consumers of unregulated alcoholic drinks are some of the people at risk of methanol consumption.
How does methanol come to be in alcoholic drinks?
According to WHO, trace amounts of methanol are found naturally in fruit juices – and this is non-toxic. Methanol is also a product of fermentation and is found in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic fermented drinks.
WHO says concentrations of 6-27 mg/L have been measured in beer and 10-220 mg/L in spirits. In these concentrations, methanol is not harmful.
However, problems arise when higher concentrations are formed during incorrectly managed distillation processes, but more particularly when methanol is deliberately added to fortify informally-produced spirits and illicit alcoholic drinks.