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A Survey on the Methanol Content of Home Distilled Alcoholic Beverages in Transylvania (Romania)

DOI: 10.2478/amma-2013-0048

Objective: Methanol appears in relatively high concentrations in alcoholic beverages obtained from fermented fruits distillates. These products are traditionally home made in many regions in Romania and other EU countries. The chronic use of products with high methanol concentration can be considered a health risk. The purpose of this work was to measure methanol concentration in a Romanian region where brandy-type alcoholic products are made from different fruits (plum, apple, pear, grapes), and to observe if there is a type of product that contains more methanol than the others.
Methods: The content of methanol in the tested alcoholic beverages was determined using a gas chromatographic method.
Results: Only 18% of the tested 56 samples met UE regulation regarding methanol content of alcoholic beverages (0.4% in alcoholic drinks containing 40% ethanol). The highest concentration of 2.39% was found in a plum brandy. Plum brandies contained significantly higher amounts of methanol than brandies made from other fruits (0.91 vs 0.52%, p = 0.01).
Conclusions: Home distilled alcoholic beverages obtained from fruits are a health threat due to their high methanol content. Strict regulations and tests should be introduced for such products.

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