Brewery fined again in beer contamination case

A brewery in Brazil behind a fatal beer contamination incident in 2020 has received another fine from authorities.

The Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP) said Cervejaria Backer had been fined almost $12 million Brazilian Real (U.S. $2.5 million).

According to the National Secretariat for Consumer Protection (Senacon), which is part of MJSP, the brewery failed to follow the recall process correctly to stop customers from buying and consuming the contaminated products.

There is “no doubt” that the firm’s conduct caused harm to consumers, according to Senacon, based on reports from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply and the police.

The decision means Backer must pay the amount within 30 days. However, there is a 25 percent discount if the company does not appeal the sanction and meets other governmental requirements.

In 2020, public prosecutors filed a complaint against 11 people in relation to the incident. Several days of hearings were held this past week and included testimony from victims. Future sessions will feature witnesses for the defense.

Incident investigation
In May, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) revealed it had previously ordered Cervejaria Backer to pay $5 million Brazilian Real (U.S. $1 million) because of a number of deficiencies found during the investigation.

Ten people died and dozens of others were affected with symptoms including blindness and facial paralysis.

Investigations by police in the state of Minas Gerais confirmed the presence of diethylene glycol, used in the beverage cooling process, in samples of the Belorizontina brand beer. The company said it never bought diethylene glycol but did use monoethylene glycol.

A hole in a tank caused a leak that allowed the coolant liquid circulating in an external system to mix with the drink inside the container.

The factory in Belo Horizonte was shut in January 2020. MAPA recently allowed production and sales to restart. The company has replaced the refrigerant fluid in its process with a hydroalcoholic solution that contains water and alcohol.

Cervejaria Três Lobos, the company responsible for the Backer brand, said resumption of operations will help expand medical and financial assistance to those affected.

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