At Least 11 Dead in Philippines After Drinking Local Coconut Wine

The Philippines are dealing with a serious issue that stems from their coconut wine. Traditionally used as a holiday drink, it turns out the wine, which is called lambanog, has caused 11 deaths and left more than 300 others in the hospital, according to local officials. The news first broke on Monday.

"It has come to the attention of the Provincal Government of Quezon that a Lambanog poisoning incident has occurred in the Municipality of Rizal, Province of Laguna, and has also affected some part of Quezon Province, more particularlyu the Municipality of Candelaria," the public advisory read. "...In light of this and in the interest of public safety, the public is hereby warned to purchase Lambanog products ONLY from manufactures, distributors and retailers which have passed the Food Safety Test with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This isn’t the first time an issue over the drink has surfaced. In 2018, 21 people lost their lives after drinking the libation. The string began last week when dozens began to fall ill from the drink. The report suggests that the ordeal was caused by one local distillery.

“Some bought for leisure drinking and birthday party, while others were donated by local officials during their Christmas party,” the Department of Health said.

The owner of that distillery, Fred Rey, turned himself over to officials but has not been arrested. He has said he will help pay for the victims’ expenses.

Many in the region have begun issuing warnings over future purchases of the drink. Salvador Panelo, a presidential spokesman, discussed the alarming report and urged the community to be careful about what they buy.


“We remind the public that they should always check whether their alcohol purchases, or any product that they consume for that matter, have been registered or approved by the Food and Drug Administration,” Panelo said. “Prudence dictates that we should always be mindful of what we ingest, particularly during this time of merrymaking.”

Lambanog is made of coconut and nipa palm sap. It is normally within the range of 80 to 90 proof. If the product, which finds itself compared to sake and schnapps, is double distilled, it can jump up to a 166 proof.