Public prosecutors in a Brazilian state have filed a complaint against certain employees from a brewery that sold contaminated beer linked to the deaths of 10 people.

The action by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Minas Gerais includes 10 people allegedly involved in the contamination of Backer’s beers and a witness for reportedly making a false statement during the police investigation.

If any of the 10, including the three-part owners of the brewery and seven staff involved in making the beer, are convicted they could face between four and eight years in prison.

Glycol poisoning
The complaint alleges that between 2018 and Jan. 9, 2020 the three owner-partners of the business in Belo Horizonte sold beer adulterated by a toxic substance in the production process that harmed consumers.

People were poisoned by diethylene glycol after drinking beer from the Backer brewery. The company had said it never bought diethylene glycol but did use mono ethylene glycol.

Police in Minas Gerais found a leak in a tank that started in September 2019. This hole allowed the coolant liquid circulating in an external system to mix with the drink inside the container. Eleven people linked to the company were indicted as part of that investigation which concluded in June that it was an accident likely caused by a manufacturing defect.

Also in June, the Minas Gerais State Department of Health reported 42 suspected cases of poisoning by diethylene glycol with symptoms including blindness and facial paralysis.

Mapa final report
A report this past month by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply (Mapa) said more than 80 thousand liters of beer of various brands and batches from the company had been removed from the market or seized at the brewery. This included more than 56,600 bottles. In the state of Espírito Santo, more than 9,000 bottles of potentially contaminated beer were withdrawn from sale.

This 76-page report claimed contamination had occurred since January 2019 and diethylene glycol and mono ethylene glycol contamination was not restricted to batches that passed through one tank as it occurred in beers prepared prior to the installation of this unit. From about 600 samples tested, glycols were found in 36 lots produced in 2019 and 2020 in varying concentrations.

MAPA said the company had gaps in its internal control and management systems, with incomplete information in production reports and inefficient traceability.

As of August, the Backer factory remained shut until it could be confirmed there are no risks for the production of beers on site, according to authorities.

In January, the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) banned the sale of Backer beers with an expiration date from August 2020 onwards.

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