Rice wine vendors reported Friday that business has gone back to normal since a disaster in which a tainted batch of the beverage killed dozens of people in Phnom Penh and Koh Kong province.
Ros Samnang, the owner of a drink shop behind the Faculty of Fine Arts, said customers have begun asking for the wine again. “[They trust] my wine because we put a package of good quality traditional drugs containing barks of trees, roots of trees…which eliminate the ache in the body of hard workers. Construction workers like it,” she said.
She gets the roots and bark from a traditional medicine shop near O‘ Russei market.
Locally brewed rice wine tainted by methanol has killed at least 70 people and hospitalized 400 since Aug 25, according to health officials.
Methanol which is often used as a solvent or a fuel increases the alcohol content in the wine .
Dr Dy Narong Rith, secretary of state for Health, blamed government food inspectors, saying vendors often bribe inspectors to make them look away.
Sales of rice wine declined for about two weeks following the scare, Ros Samnang said. However, sales have buoyed this week to her normal level of about 30 liters a day, she said.
Health authorities asked vendors not to sell the rice wine during the crisis.
While Ros Samnang took it off her display shelves, she sold the wine to customers who asked for it, she said.
Chum Khov, who sells about 10 liters of rice wine a day from his house near O‘ Russei market, said Friday that during the crisis he began tasting the wine himself to dispel customer mistrust of his stocks.
“I myself tasted it before I put it on sale,” he said. “If it is dangerous, I would rather drink it than leave it for somebody else.”