By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has suspended the certification process of products and production facilities of City 5 Gin over adulteration of methanol and ethanol against the specified standards.
The suspension follows the death of over 17 people and eyesight loss in Arua district and neighboring districts.
While addressing the press in Kampala, David Livingstone Ebiru, the executive director of UNBS said that the bureau had certified Luluwiri factory to produce pineapple table sweet wine and not the gin which killed people last week.
He said that the same company tried to apply for certification of City 5 Pineapple Flavored Gin but it failed the laboratory Analysis for having low Alcohol content.
“The same Luluwiri Fruit Wine had attempted to apply for certification of City 5 Pineapple Flavored Gin which failed Laboratory Analysis for having Low Alcohol content which is below 37.5% volume required of a Gin as per specifications of the standard,” Mr. Ebiru said in a statement.
“Therefore, City 5 had not been certified by UNBS for conformity to the relevant standards and therefore should not be in production and for sale to the public,” he said.
He added that the City 5 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.
The Bureau together with Uganda Police inspected the Luluwiri Fruit Wine Factory and found forty unmarked drums containing Alcohol and Eight filled jerry cans containing Alcohol. The samples were taken for further laboratory analysis.
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.
UNBS had also not yet completed the conformity assessment for this product and is not allowed to be on the market.
According to the laboratory Analysis of samples, the samples picked by Uganda Police from a community Kiosk where the product was being was sold had been adulterated with excessive levels of Methanol and very low levels of Ethanol per volume specified in the standard.
“The sample picked by Uganda Police Force from the Kiosk where the product was being sold was found to have been adulterated with excessive levels of Methanol above the maximum limit of 50 milligrams per liter and had low levels of Ethanol below 37.5% mass per volume specified in the standard,” he said.
Five Samples out of the Eight picked from Luluwiri Fruit Wine and one sample out of the two picked from Dbtech Enterprises was found to have been adulterated with excessive levels of Methanol above the maximum limit of 50 milligrams per liter specified in the standard.
He further added that based on results from the laboratory Analysis, it is clear that the cause of death for the people who consumed the City 5 Gin was due to excessive adulteration of the Gin with methanol which was found to be between 17 to 16,183 times far more higher than the permissible levels of 50 milligrams per liter which is specified in the standard for Gin.
The Bureau indicated 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.
“Unlike Ethanol, Methanol is poisonous for human consumption since it can easily be absorbed through the eyes, skin, lungs and digestive system with it’s over exposure causing death,” the Bureau indicated.
Mr. David said that Bureau with the help of the Uganda Police have arrested suspects involved in the manufacture and sale of City 5 Gin, and sealed off and suspended the production facilities where adulterated Gin was found until further notice.
The Bureau has suspended the certification process of products from the suspected production facilities, and placed advertisements in local radios in West Nile region to caution people against consumption of City 5 Gin and other uncertified beverages.
UNBS has appealed to the general public and local authorities to be vigilant and always report anyone involved in the production and distribution of uncertified products to Bureau to take necessary action.
Methanol, according to the executive director Livingstone is an industrial chemical which is used to create fuel and as a solvent, anti freeze among others.
“And this is what they consumed,” he said.
Meanwhile, UNBS said it will continue with the crackdown on uncertified local manufacturers in the West Nile.