Samoa Police launches investigations into banned alcohol products

Samoa Police are investigating the sale of banned alcohol products.

Deputy Police Commissioner Papalii Monalisa Tiai-Keti said products such as rice vodka re-emerged in stores during the recent festive season where demand for alcohol peaked.

“The decision of the Alcohol Control Board was very clear with regards to these products found to contain high levels of methanol.”

“So we are surprised to see these banned products back on the shelves.”

Papalii referred to a decision made in April 2022 announced by Deputy Prime Minister Tuala Tevaga Ponifasio, who is also the Chair of Samoa’s Alcohol Control Board.

At the time, Tuala said Samoa’s Scientific Research Oganisation had tested locally produced vodka, and found the products to have contained dangerously high levels of methanol.

“With the exception of Taula and Vailima who have their own labs and adhere with international standards of processing, all other manufacturers failed to comply with many areas of minimum standards imposed,” said Tuala.

The Deputy Prime Minster explained at the time that locally produced vodka is primarily made of water and ethanol with traces of flavourings. He said the imported ethanol used by local manufacturers has an Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of 95%.

Manufacturers then try to dilute this ethanol, to ensure the alcohol volume is at or below the 49% ceiling imposed by Samoa regulations, Tuala had explained.