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Counterfeit whisky poisons 22 people in China

Counterfeit Chinese whisky containing toxic methanol has poisoned 22 people in Guangdong province in southern China.

Two counterfeit whisky brands called Flylions and Faliya containing toxic methanol have left 22 people in hospital in Guangdong province. (Photo credit: Guangdong Food and Drug Administration)

The two brands of whisky called ‘Flylions’ and ‘Faliya’ were carrying labels that claimed to be produced by Yantai Weiyade Wine Company in Penglai, which has since denied making the toxic beverages, reported Sixth Tone.

Its company representative Liu Yiming told the news website on Monday that Weiyade had not produced the beverages, stating: “Someone counterfeited our brand,” adding that the incident has harmed the company’s reputation.

According to the Chinese company’s website, it says it produces Chinese wine.

Customers who had drunk the beverages at a bar called Muse in Heyuan on 23 November showed symptoms of vomiting, visual impairment and dizziness. As of 26 November, four victims are still in ICU, according to Chinese newspaper Beijing Daily.

Further investigation led police to confiscate over 190 cases of beverages in question in different Muse bars in Shenzhen, Huizhou and Heyuan, and arrest four suspects, according to Heyuan police.

Two days after the incident, police and officers from Hainan Food and Drug Administration uncovered 600 bottles of the fake whiskies in a bar called Miami in the island province of Hainan, to the south of Guangdong.

The bar has sold 47 bottles and the remaining 553 bottles have been confiscated, reported local Chinese news site Hainan Daily News.

On the same day, the country’s food quality watchdog, China Food and Drug Administration announced a nation-wide ban on the two whisky brands, confirming that those bottles confiscated are fake spirits mixed with methanol. Initial investigations showed the beverages have been sold to bars in Hebei, Guangdong, Hainan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces, according to a statement posted on its official website.

Earlier in September, police seized more than 2,000 bottles of counterfeit Chinese spirits including Kweichow Moutai and Wuliangye with a retail value of more than RMB 1 million(US$152,000) in raids on six tobacco and liquor stores in China’s central Hunan province, according to a report by SCMP.

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