The Maldives Customs Service is working with businesses to recall Gerstel non-alcoholic beer from the market after discovering that the beverage contained a trace amount of alcohol vapour.
Customs announced the recall in a statement released on Sunday evening after the issue was raised on social media by former home minister Umar Naseer.
According to customs, the non-alcoholic beer from Germany has been available locally since 2017 and the last shipment was imported in August 2018.
Based on suspicions, customs intelligence started investigating in June this year and the next shipment was held up after it arrived on July 17. Laboratory testing conducted last week showed the beverage contained 0.3 percent alcohol vapour.
In the United States, beer that contains up to 0.5 percent alcohol by volume could be labelled “alcohol-free.”
All food and drink items imported to the Maldives are brought in with permission from the Food and Drug Authority, customs noted, adding that the matter was tied to the interests of several businesses as similar products have been sold in the country for years.
Customs is working with the relevant authorities to resolve the issue, the statement assured.
The sale of alcohol is prohibited by law on inhabited islands as its consumption is forbidden in Islam. The Maldivian population is ostensibly 100 percent Sunni Muslim and the constitution states that “no law contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted in the Maldives.”
However, both liquor and pork are imported to the Maldives in large quantities for sale on “uninhabited” resort islands.
In May 2016, customs seized sauce bottles containing white wine and pork on sale at a shop in Malé.