Costa Rica Says No Tourists Affected by Tainted Alcohol

Some of the affected alcohol brands

Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health has shared an update with Travel Agent regarding the 19 suspected deaths in the country this summer due to poisoning by methanol, a toxic variant of alcohol. 

“While no tourists have been affected by the adulterated alcohol in Costa Rica, the safety of our tourists is of the utmost importance,” the Ministry said in a statement provided to Travel Agent. “The authorities continue to monitor the situation to understand and remain transparent about the investigation and procedures that follow. The adulterated alcohol in question is of a lower grade and an investigation continues.”

Local authorities are strongly advising travelers not to consume the following brands that have been affected: Guaro Montano, Guaro Gran Apache, Star Welsh, Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Aguardiente Timbuka and Aguardiente Molotov

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The Costa Rica Tourism Institute also reaffirmed that no tourists have been affected by adulterated alcohol in Costa Rica, and that visitor safety is a priority, in a statement provided to Travel Agent.

"The local authorities continue to monitor the situation and work to understand and remain transparent about the investigation," the Tourism Institute said.

Similarly, the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica has issued a statement noting that it is not aware of any U.S. citizen illness or death due to consuming adulterated alcohol in the country. The Embassy also strongly recommends people avoid consuming alcohol from the affected brands. 

On Friday, July 19, the Ministry reported that there have been 19 suspected deaths from methanol in June and July: seven in San José, four in Cartago, three in Limón, two in Guanacaste and one in Heredia. Two other cases are pending investigation. 

That Friday the Ministry also reported that it had seized approximately 30,000 containers of alcohol that had been tainted with methanol. The alcohol was marketed under the brands listed above. 

The Ministry also said that the lethal amount of methanol ingested with drinks varies based on the concentration of methanol in the drink, the person’s weight, and if that person is a habitual consumer of alcohol. In general terms, a dose of 0.2 milliliters of 100 percent methanol per kilogram of the person’s weight would theoretically result in a toxic concentration of methanol, assuming 100 percent absorption, the Ministry said. 

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