News of poisoning of coconut wine, or lambanog, drinkers may soon be a thing of the past as a test kit is being developed to ensure the safety of this popular intoxicating drink

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Calabarzon Regional Office and the Cavite State University (CvSU) are in partnership in developing field-test kits to control the quality and ensure safety the safety of lambanog, which is popular in coconut-producing areas in Luzon, a DOST news release said.

Proper fermentation in the production of lambanog is important to prevent poisoning, experts say who reiterate the warnings to distillers over the drink’s high methanol content.

It was reported in December 2019 that 300 individuals were hospitalized in the provinces of Laguna and Quezon with signs of poisoning, after drinking lambanog with high levels of methanol.

“Lambanog poisoning is caused by residual methanol, which in high levels becomes highly toxic for humans. Methanol is naturally occurring substance present during the distilling process, that should be separated and removed thereafter,” the Department of Health was quoted in a statement in 2019.

The DOST is allotting P1,074,900 for the project for the use of business owners for quality control to ensure food quality and safety.

The initiative is being led by its project leader Dr. Hosea Matel of CvSu and Science Research Specialist Jon Uriel Layos of DOST–Science Education Institute.

“By taking samples and treating them, the observable change in its hue can help local brewers determine whether or not their products are safe for human consumption,” Matel said.

The technology aims to develop a low-cost field test kit (i.e., microfluidic paper-based colorimetric sensor) to detect methanol contamination in alcoholic beverages, such as lambanog, and to help the producers establish food quality and safety standards.

Prototypes are very simple to use and affordable, but developers pointed out that it needs more tests to prove its technical and economic feasibility.

“The field-test kit for methanol is helpful in testing for food safety of lambanog; when deployed it can be integrated in the quality control procedures of distillers. This might be helpful in bringing back public trust on an age-old traditional product,” Matel said. S&T Media Services

Image courtesy of DOST photo

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