Methanol Institute's Commitment to Bootleg Alcohol Prevention
The Methanol Institute (MI) and its members commit significant resources to ensuring safe use and handling of methanol throughout the global supply chain. The illegal manufacturing and distribution of contaminated alcoholic beverages can lead to injury and loss of life. This is largely preventable through proper enforcement, consumer education, and medical training.
In 2012, MI established educational programs aimed at preventing methanol poisoning from production, consumption, and distribution of illegal and bootleg (counterfeit) alcoholic beverages. MI has expanded these programs to Indonesia and Vietnam, and is working with global partners in other at-risk markets to protect consumers from adulterated alcoholic beverages.
MI believes technical solutions are also critical. We are working with partners to develop technologies that would allow consumers to test the content of alcoholic drinks before consuming them. We are also supporting development of glucose-based technologies that allow doctors to identify quickly levels of methanol in a patient’s bloodstream, without the need for expensive GC-MS (gas chromatography – mass spectrometry) technology. Additionally, MI is committed to helping make Fomepizole more widely and cost-effectively available to treat suspected poisonings in at-risk markets around the world.
How The Industry is Leading the Way in Prevention
Presentation by MI and L.I.A.M Charitable Fund at the 17th IMPCA (International Methanol Producers & Consumers Association) 2014 Asian Methanol Conference in Singapore.
Our Country Programs
DOM LAVIGNE, Director of Gov't & Public Affairs - Asia Pacific/Middle East
A recent in-house presentation educating users on MI and Bootleg Alcohol Prevention.
MI collaborated with and provided funding to The LIAM Charitable Fund to develop bootleg alcohol prevention programs in Indonesia – primarily in Bali, Lombok, and the Gili Islands – from 2013-2016. The International Methanol Producers and Consumers Association (IMPCA) helped fund the programs’ expansion into Java over the last couple years.
Methanol poisonings from improperly-brewed, homemade alcoholic beverages and adulterated/counterfeit alcoholic spirits kill as many as 10 people in Indonesia every day. This problem is quite widespread, impacting both local communities and tourists. MI and our Indonesia-based partners have created train-the-trainer programs to help medical professionals be able to identify and quickly treat suspected poisoning cases. We also work in local villages and tourist hot-spots to educate consumers on the dangers of consuming illicit alcoholic beverages.
MI and our in-country partners also work closely with government and law enforcement officials to protect public health.
The Russian Federation and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have had a history of public health impacts from consumers drinking bootleg alcohol consumption. In December 2016, more than 77 people died in Irkutsk, Russia from drinking scented bath lotion which contained methanol.
MI has been in contact with Russian officials and offered our assistance to educate and train the medical community and general public about methanol poisoning risk mitigation, symptoms identification, and treatment.
Vietnam is the largest alcohol consumer in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). On September 14, 2006, the Vietnam Beverage Association reported that Vietnam became the world’s 10th largest alcohol-consuming nation. Its citizens drank more than 3.4 billion litres of beer, and another 342 million litres of spirits in 2015 – a 40% increase from 2010.
It is estimated that 85% of alcohol available in Vietnam is from homemade origins. Homemade alcohol quality and safety, lack of enforcement, and growing incidences of spirits adulterated with industrial chemicals are causing increasing public health risks among Vietnamese consumers. During Tet, the annual Vietnamese Lunar New Year period, hospitals treat hundreds of patients affected from consuming suspected adulterated, counterfeit, and/or improperly-brewed homemade alcoholic beverages.
In January 2016, MI, the Institute for Preventive Medicine and Public Health (IPMPH) at Hanoi Medical University (HMU), and Bach Mai Hospital’s Poison Control Center (PCC) launched the Vietnam Methanol Education Programs (VMEP), a five-year initiative aimed at increasing public health safety in Vietnam through community and medical education programs and partnering with government and law enforcement officials.