Man’s life in jeopardy over methanol poisoning in Vietnam

Here we go again!

A Vietnamese man who was in a critical condition after consuming alcohol mixed with industrial methanol now has a bad prognosis as doctors in Ho Chi Minh City feed pure ethanol into the patient’s digestive system to delay methanol breakdown, while he is undergoing dialysis.

D.V.M., a resident in Ho Chi Minh City, was admitted to the 115 General Hospital in District 10 in the early hours of Wednesday with symptoms of methanol poisoning.


De ja vu

It is a persistent issue in Vietnam.

Every time when I travelled to the villages, I pray that I will not be made to drink rice wine from a mineral water bottle.

It is common for villagers to invite foreigners to be their guests at their home. It is considered rude to reject such invitation and the host will “lose face” when rejected.

And when you accept their invitation, drinking is almost the most immediate event to take place as a mean to break the ice.

So out comes the rice wine. As most villagers are poor families, they cannot afford luxuries like whiskey and wine, or even beer. Rice wine is the next substitute. These rice wine are usually home brewed and sold in reused mineral water bottles.

It is illegal but people are still unaware and uneducated about the risks involved when drinking home brewed rice wine.

And a lot of times sellers will use industrial methanol to help boost the strength of these rice wines. And almost every few months such reports will surface without fail especially during festive seasons.

Fake Whiskey

Some times consumers were served fake whiskey in clubs and bars without realising. It is rampant during my time in Saigon, and I still think they are now.

The best defence is to avoid ordering whiskey or spirits in bars or pubs. If you are an expat, only order whiskey or spirits from bars you frequent.