Council warns Christmas consumers about counterfeit alcohol

By on 18/12/2013 in News

Birmingham Trading Standards is warning people to be on their guard this Christmas after officers found popular brands of fake alcohol in shops across the city.

Well-known brands such as Smirnoff and Glens Vodka have recently been found in shops in Birmingham.  Nearly 300 bottles of illicit alcohol – including 70cl size Smirnoff and Glens Vodka – were seized by Trading Standards.

Officers visited over 20 premises where labelling was fake and four where the alcohol content was not genuine.

Visits to licensed premises found illegal alcohol, particularly counterfeit vodka containing higher levels of methanol than is authorised in authentic vodka. Consumption of large amounts of methanol can be harmful and in extreme cases can lead to blindness.

Top tips to spot fake alcohol include:
•    Spelling mistakes - closely check both back and front of bottle
•    The branding - words or image is not aligned
•    Taste - unfamiliar taste or aftertaste
•    Smell - extremely strong/overpowering smell

Cllr Barbara Dring, Chair of the Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “With Christmas fast approaching I'm sure some people will be tempted to buy cheap counterfeit alcohol, but the side effects could prove dangerous potentially resulting in the loss of sight.

“I would urge consumers to check labels and branding to make sure they are genuine. Any product on sale anywhere other than the official retailer should be considered as suspect.

“The vast majority of traders in the city are responsible and sell legitimate products, but there are a number of rogue traders looking to make money from what is potential a health hazard.”

Those who know of or are in receipt of counterfeit alcohol should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 040506 /or go to www.birmingham.gov.uk/tradingstandards Alternatively, contact Smirnoff customer service on 0208 978 6000.

Trading Standards is also advising traders only to buy alcoholic products from legitimate sources to protect themselves.

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