Champagne & MDMA? Multiple Recalls After Spiked Bottles Of Moët Found

Champagne & MDMA? Multiple Recalls After Spiked Bottles Of Moët Found

Few people popping open a bottle of the luxe brand Moët expect their champagne celebrations to turn sour. But several contaminated bottles in Europe contained the drug MDMA, making about a dozen people sick, with a link to one death.

Earlier this year, one recall (lot code LAJ7QAB6780004) of the champagne was made when a group of eight in Germany and another group of four in the Netherlands accidentally ingested liquid from tampered-with bottles of Moët and Chandon XXL Ice Imperial. One German man, Harald Georg Z (52), died after taking a big gulp of what he thought was champagne while celebrating the end of COVID restrictions.

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Investigators found that the bottles contained no champagne at all, instead containing pure liquid MDMA. They also found that the bottles had clearly been tampered with, having been drained of the champagne and refilled with the MDMA mixture. A different cork was then used to reseal the bottle.

It’s been reported that the affected bottles contained about 1,000 times the “normal dose” of a single MDMA pill, but recreational doses of the drug have varied widely over the past several decades. “Recreationally, pills today are often in the range of 100-250 mg,” said Dr. Sam Zand, practicing psychiatrist and Chief Medical Officer at Better U.

To put these numbers in perspective, a study in healthy subjects found that doses of 50 mg, 75 mg and 150 mg of pure MDMA resulted in a peak blood concentration of 0.106 mg/L, 0.131mg/L and 0.236 mg/L, respectively. Most of the cases of serious toxicity or fatality have involved blood levels ranging from 0.5 mg/L to 10 mg/L, that is, between five and 40 times higher than the average recreational range.

But the relationship between dose and toxicity or fatality is not clear cut.

“The pharmacokinetics of MDMA are strange in that only small increases in the dose lead to much higher, non-linear levels of MDMA concentration in the blood,” explained Dr. Bryan Quoc Le, a food scientist, food industry consultant, and author of 150 Food Science Questions Answered. Ultimately this means that even small increases in dosage may carry the risk of large increases in toxicity.

“Everyone processes drugs differently,” explained Dr. Zand. “Some could overdose on much less, and some could survive on much more. Factors to consider include age, kidney and liver function, other medications, contaminants, preexisting health conditions, overexertion, or dehydration. One thousand times [the average dose] would certainly be lethal.”

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European food and drug authorities have warned against even making skin contact with any liquid suspected of contamination.

“The reason why MDMA can be life threatening even by just dipping your fingers in the bottle is because your fingers are very absorbent and accidental skin absorption is a common occurrence with methamphetamines,” said Dr. William Soliman, Ph.D. and CEO of the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA). “The danger of skin absorption is that the potency and dose of MDMA absorbed would not be known.”

According to Dr. Zand, MDMA overdose usually leads to hyperthermia, and overheating of the body. Others have also died from brain swelling, acute liver failure, strokes, sudden heart failure, abnormal bleeding and seizures. Hyponatremia, or abnormally low sodium in the blood, is another common cause of death in MDMA overdoses since MDMA can potentiate the ability of water to lower blood sodium levels.

The affected champagne and MDMA bottles have contained a reddish-brown liquid that looks and smells nothing like champagne. It does not sparkle, and has an anise-like smell. Anyone opening a bottle they think might be contaminated is urged to go to the police, since it has been confirmed that the tampering did not come from the manufacturer, Moët Hennessy.

A second European recall was made in June (lot code LAK5SAA6490005) when investigations uncovered another tampered-with bottle. It is not known how the MDMA ended up in the bottles, how many bottles may have been tainted and who is at risk. As yet no arrests have been made and no contaminated bottles have shown up in the United States.

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Lauren M. Wilson

Lauren M. Wilson

View all posts by Lauren M. Wilson

Lauren M. Wilson is a five-time published author, freelance writer and editor. She has built a career on investigating cultural niches and her latest works, including three books, have focused on advancing the mainstream conversation on cannabis through education. She is currently diving into the psychedelic renaissance and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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