The Associated Press has reported a tragic story from Mozambique. 69 people who attended the same funeral died after drinking a local beer, Pombe, that had been allegedly laced with “crocodile bile.” Nearly 200 of the mourners who attended the funeral have been hospitalized. The woman who brewed the beer was one of the first to die.
Crocodile bile is the digestive juice from the gall bladders of the Nile crocodile. Such bile salts or bile acids can be quite toxic in very high concentrations. But as Forbes points out, it’s difficult to imagine “just how much bile wouldn’ve had to be added to 210 liters of brew for so many deaths to occur.” One theory is: it wasn’t crocodile bile but “a toxic plant that may have been added to the brew in witchcraft practices.” The chemical structure of such bile acids are not so different from drugs like digozin (Lanoxin) used to treat congestive heart failure. An investigation is under way.