Nearly 300 million liters of unknown origin alcohol threaten consumers’ health
Each year, from 230-280 million liters of homemade (or handmade) alcohol are marketed. No quality announcement, no origin, no stamps, and with no labels, this alcohol is potentially harmful to the health of consumers.
According to the General Statistics Office, in the first 10 months of 2020, Vietnam recorded 81 cases of food poisoning with 2,040 victims, including 21 fatal cases. According to the World Health Organization, alcohol poisoning accounts for over 20% of all food poisoning cases in Vietnam.
The Poison Control Center, Hanoi-based Bach Mai Hospital recorded an increasing number of alcohol poisoning cases in recent times. In October alone, the hospital treated 18 alcohol poisoning cases, including some fatal cases.
In Vietnam, illegal and unofficial alcoholic beverages still account for a large share of the market. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, 230-280 million liters of handmade wine are sold on the local market annually. This kind of alcohol is processed and sold by private establishments without licenses or quality registration with the authority.
Alcohol trading is subject to conditional investment and business, but the number of licensed homemade alcohol businesses is very small. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, only about 15% of craft liquor establishments nationwide are licensed. Craft alcohol management remains the biggest challenge.
Many regulations on management of alcohol and beer production have been enacted but many alcohol processors in traditional alcohol processing villages in the provinces of Bac Giang, Nam Dinh and Ninh Binh do not know about these rules.
For example, Lai Thanh commune, Kim Son district, Ninh Binh province, has over 400 households with professional tradition of alcohol brewing. Their products are supplied to hundreds of restaurants and bars in Ninh Binh and neighboring provinces. There are many families with more than 40 years of experience as alcohol brewers who process nearly 100 liters of wine each day. However, they said they know nothing about the regulations on registration and licence for handmade alcohol processing as prescribed in Decree 105/2017/ND-CP of the Government.
In Ninh Binh province, it is estimated that the annual output of craft alcohol is more than 5 million liters. However, the provincial Department of Industry and Trade admitted that the number of wine breweries registered with the government and applied for a license is very few.
In Bac Giang province, there are over 300 out of nearly 4,000 homemade alcohol processing households being licensed. In Nam Dinh, less than 100 out of thousands of alcohol processing households are registered.
In fact, most of the this processed alcohol on the market is not declared quality, and has no origin, no stamps, and no labels.
A recent survey on alcohol and beer consumption by the Institute for Population and Social Affairs and the Hanoi National Economics University with 5,175 households in 12 provinces and cities shows that up to 77.6% of the total number of drinkers used homemade alcohol.
Mr. Nguyen Van Viet, Chairman of the Vietnam Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Association, proposed adding sanctions to the current regulations on craft alcohol management and create necessary rules for craft alcohol establishments.
E-stamps will be used for imported tobacco and alcohol products that are subjected to excise taxes, according to the Ministry of Finance.
A foreigner has died and two others are being treated for alcohol poisoning in the central province of Khanh Hoa’s General Hospital after they drunk a mixture of methanol and beer.