Govt shuts down firm linked to toxic brew

May 8, 2014 12:58 pm
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Tests on samples taken out of the affected areas have shown that the drinks contained up to 100 percent of methanol, a highly toxic industrial chemical/AFP FILE
Tests on samples taken out of the affected areas have shown that the drinks contained up to 100 percent of methanol, a highly toxic industrial chemical/AFP FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – The government has ordered the closure of a company linked to the manufacture of the toxic brew that has killed 83 people and left hundreds of others hospitalised.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia indicated that he had directed Comrade Investments Company, which is linked to some of the illicit brands, to be shut down.

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, Macharia pointed out that preliminary results indicated high levels of methanol in Sacramento Cane Spirit and Country Man Liquor.

“These brands are manufactured by M/S Comrades Investments Company,” he said.

He said the firm also manufactures Hardyman Brandy, Hardyman Gin, Hardyman Vodka, Georges Vodka, Georges Brandy, Rhyneberg Brandy and Pamoja Brandy and Pamoja Gin.

“Considering the analysis report and also the fact that the two brands with high levels of methanol are from this company, the Ministry under Cap 254 and Cap 242 Laws of Kenya hereby orders the closure of M/S Comrade Investment Company Ltd,” he said.

“Following the recent deaths arising from the consumption of alcohol, samples were collected from the affected areas in Makueni, Kitui, Muranga, Kiambu and Embu. Preliminary results of analysis indicated high levels of methanol in the following brands of drinks – Sacramento Cane Spirit and Countryman liquor,” he revealed in the statement.

According to Macharia, tests on samples taken out of the affected areas have shown that the drinks contained up to 100 percent of methanol, a highly toxic industrial chemical. READ It wasn’t booze, it was methanol – Minister

“The results show high levels of up to 100 percent of methanol contents which in normal circumstances is supposed to be at zero percent. This is contrary to the provision of section 5 of the Food, Drugs and Substances Act chapter 254, Laws of Kenya,” he stated.

The Health Secretary revealed that samples collected in Embu had 70 percent of methanol while the concentration in Makueni was 100 percent.

According to Macharia, the only component allowed in brews is 40 percent ethanol.

He however stated that conclusive results on the cause of deaths can only be arrived at after a post-mortem on the victims.

The death toll from the consumption of the illicit brew rose to 83, according to figures released on Wednesday by the National Disaster Operations Centre.

This was after the death toll in Embu rose to 35 on Wednesday, with that in Makueni rising from six to 18 and with three new cases being reported in Muranga.

The deaths in Kiambu remained constant at 20 but one more death was reported in Kitui, bringing the county death toll to seven.

So far, three people have been arrested – one in Embu and two in Ruai – on suspicion of involvement in the sale of the illicit brew.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku on Wednesday vowed stern action against officers whose responsibility it was to ensure that illicit alcohol was not being brewed or sold.

Eastern regional coordinator Claire Omolo announced that two chiefs in Embu had also been relieved of their duties.

Lenku stated that the interdictions were extended to all the affected areas.

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