Backer given approval to restart beer sales after deadly outbreak

Brazilian officials have allowed a brewery to restart production at a site that was the source of contaminated beer linked to the deaths of 10 people in 2020.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) confirmed Cervejaria Backer was permitted to resume production and sale at the factory in Belo Horizonte this past week.

In January 2020, MAPA closed the brewery after testing identified the presence of diethylene glycol in several batches of Backer beers. The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) also banned the sale of some Backer beers. Ten people died and dozens of others were affected with symptoms including blindness and facial paralysis.

In 2020, public prosecutors filed a complaint against 11 people in relation to the incident and hearings are expected to start next month.

Agency officials said the company has complied with the requirements to guarantee the safety of products including the conditions of fermentation tanks and equipment that will be used.

Meeting requirements and supporting victims
The brewery also replaced the refrigerant fluid in its process with a hydroalcoholic solution that contains water and alcohol.

Beer production has been taking place since November 2021. Products were reported weekly to MAPA and each batch was analyzed. Approval means Cervejaria Backer is authorized again to sell its products.

Cervejaria Três Lobos, the company responsible for the Backer brand, said approval for resuming production and the reopening process was monitored by the authorities to ensure all technical and legal criteria were met.

The statement added resumption of beer production will be a decisive factor in expanding medical and financial assistance to those affected.

A 2020 report by MAPA revealed the presence of monoethylene glycol and diethylene glycol in beers produced by the brand since 2019. The company had said it never bought diethylene glycol but did use monoethylene 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.

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