Two dead from alcohol poisoning; spotlights need for quality control

Monday, 19 April 2021 02:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Two deaths over the weekend in Galigamuwa due to alcohol poisoning once again highlights the need for stringent regulation and control over the quality of products and production. 

In addition to the deaths, one other person is in hospital in serious condition following a party at a residence. All three persons collapsed soon after consuming a toddy-like product, and two were pronounced dead upon admission to hospital. Police are conducting further investigations.  Artificial toddy poses serious threats to health and security of Sri Lankans islandwide, with manufacturers using chemicals to produce alcohol and enhance volume. In 2019, one person died and several others took seriously ill at a toddy tavern in Pundaluoya after consuming similar products. 

The tavern was shut by the Department of Excise. However, it resumed operations within a short period and no arrests were made with regards to the incident, underlining the lack of comprehensive laws and mechanisms of control.

Of further concern is that artificial toddy, which is harmful to human health, is used to produce vinegar, which then makes its way into households. 

No State authority appears to shoulder responsibility for the quality of alcohol products in the country, as the Excise Department focuses on licensing and alcohol content. With alcohol being a beverage consumed by the public, the Consumer Affairs Authority along with the Ministry of Health needs to adopt a more proactive approach towards ensuring safety of consumers.