GEORGE TOWN: Police have warned the public to stay away from cheap brands of liquor following the deaths of six men from methanol poisoning in recent weeks.
Penang northeast district police chief ACP Che Zaimani Che Awang said consumers should only patronise outlets which are licensed by the authorities and should also examine the label of the product they intend to consume.
They should also refer to the distributors to verify if the liquor is genuine.
The six dead were identified as two Malaysians, three Myanmar nationals and one from India, and police believe they had consumed alcohol sold by a Myanmar construction worker at a construction site in Jalan S. P. Chelliah.
With the prices of alcohol going up, many low income workers have opted for the cheap brands, that are widely available here.
Besides the six deaths recorded over two months, Che Zaimani said seven Myanmar nationals were still warded at the Penang Hospital for alcohol poisoning.
He said in the past two months, the hospital had recorded 13 cases of methanol poisoning, of which six were fatal.
It is believed that unscrupulous traders had mixed methanol with the cheap liquor.
Police launched a major raid recently at a premises in Komtar, that was believed to be used to store the tainted liquor.
“We also arrested a 44-year-old Myanmar suspect, who was the caretaker,“ said Che Zaimani.
Police seized 600 bottles of liquor labelled as “High Class Whisky” and other brands such as El Diablo Super Strong Brew and Martens Extra Strong.
The seized liquor are believed to have being smuggled in from Myanmar and sold at RM4 to RM8 per bottle.
Based on the organised nature of the distribution, Che Zaimani said that a syndicate was likely behind the racket.