Warning after champagne laced with drugs kills one; sickens 11

Warning after champagne laced with drugs kills one; sickens 11

by Sue Jones
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A number of people have fallen sick in Germany and the Netherlands and one has died after drinking champagne contaminated with ecstasy.

In mid-February, a 52-year-old man died in the German town of Weiden and seven other people needed hospital treatment.

Eight people, aged 33 to 52, had all drunk from a bottle of champagne ordered at a restaurant. When emergency services arrived, they found several people lying on the ground. Those sick received medical attention and were taken to different hospitals. Seven have since recovered and been released.

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) has since issued a warning about the potential for a Moët champagne to contain the drug.

The alert covers Moët and Chandon Ice Impérial 3 liter with lot code LAJ7QAB6780004. This code can be found on the label on the back of the bottle.

According to the producer, Moët Hennessy, there have been four illnesses in the Netherlands.

Ongoing investigation
It is not known how ecstasy ended up in the product so the NVWA said it was unable to estimate whether there are more contaminated bottles in circulation. The agency added it cannot rule out that there are other bottles of the same brand in circulation that also contain ecstasy.

The NVWA told people not to taste the product if they think they have a suspected contaminated bottle but to call the police.

Belgian officials also warned people not to consume the affected product. However, there is no indication affected bottles are on the Belgian market and no reports of sick people have so far been identified in the country.

Laboratory analysis on the champagne bottle in question from the restaurant in Germany found it contained MDMA, also known as ecstasy.

The liquid in the bottle was a reddish/brown color. Contents did not have a noticeable chemical smell, but an aromatic-fruity smell, although this was described by investigators as not “champagne-like”. The liquid contained no carbon dioxide and did not bubble, as is normal for champagne.

The champagne was bought via an online platform some time before it was served. Police believe it was purchased by the restaurant in good faith as an original product.

Investigations are ongoing to determine how the drug got into the product and who is responsible. A focus is on identifying people behind the manipulation of the bottle after its production and sale.

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