On November 24, 2021, Vinachemia, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) of Vietnam held a webinar on how to add color indicator to non-food alcohol products. In Vietnam, the Law on Prevention and Control of Harms of Liquor and Beer Abuse (No. 44/2019/QH14) was passed by the National Assembly on June 14, 2019. Article 20, paragraph 3 of the Law requires for MOIT and the Ministry of Health to formulate guidelines on the addition of color indicators to non-food alcohol products, in order for 1) distinguishing non-food alcohol products from food alcohol products; and 2) preventing the production of alcoholic beverages from alcohol products that are prohibited for food use. This webinar was held as part of the implementation of this provision and was attended by representatives from research institutes and companies in the chemical and food manufacturing sectors.
Experts and businesses doubt the feasibility
In this webinar, many participants expressed their opinions that adding color indicators to non-food alcohol products was not feasible. They said if addition of color indicators was mandated, there was a concern that it would put a heavy burden on the production and sales of non-food alcohol products.
In the international market, visual inspection standards for industrial (non-food) alcohol products emphasize that they must be transparent, free of layers, and free of impurities. Therefore, to satisfy these requirements, color indicators must be added to alcohol products before putting them on the market by overseas suppliers before delivery or by domestic companies at their factory sites. In either case, it will increase capital investment and labor costs, leading to lower manufacturing efficiency and inevitably increased price of alcohol products, participants said.
In addition, the addition of color indicators will also affect the quality of final products that are made from industrial alcohol. Industrial alcohol is widely used as a solvent in the manufacture of detergents, paints, adhesives, and inks. Worldwide, visual inspection standards for industrial alcohol require for industrial alcohol to be transparent, colorless, and free of residue. Domestic and international companies and research institutes thus will not accept alcohol products that contain color indicators.
Stricter control on alcohol products needed
According to Pham Huy Dong, deputy director of the Vietnam Institute of Industrial Chemistry, the root cause for accidents caused by alcohol products (especially methanol) must be addressed, rather than adding color indicators to alcohol products. Regulations on methanol, ethanol, aldehyde, etc. contained in food or alcohol products are already clearly established. In addition, it is also clearly stipulated and thoroughly implemented that manufacturers must distinguish alcohol products for industrial use from those for food use before distributing any alcohol product, in their product names. Indeed, alcohol-related accidents are currently occurring due to lack of awareness of alcohol-related hazards or intentional regulatory violations by manufacturing and/or trading facilities. Therefore, it is needed not only to raise awareness among them but to enhance state control on alcohol products after they are put on the market. Specifically, it would be effective not only to prevent illegal use of toxic chemicals with the use of the control records for sale and purchase of toxic chemicals but also to strengthen the management of product labeling and the inspection and audit of facilities in violation, Mr. Pham said.
The release by Vinachemia, MOIT can be viewed at: