Fake vodka – unfit for human consumption

By on 27/09/2011 in News

Illegal vodka which poses a potential serious risk to public health, has been found to still be in circulation in Birmingham, two months after an investigation by HMRC and the citycouncil saw an illegal manufacturing plant shut down with three men arrested.

The premises were raided by HMRC officers who seized around 12,000 litres of counterfeit vodka branded as “Arctic Ice”.  In addition, officers seized glass bottles, a labelling machine and other paraphernalia relating to the production of illegal alcohol.

Joint Investigations with Birmingham City Council have now shown the products are  in circulation at some independent stores in Birmingham, with the Council's environmental health officers continuing to monitor shops and remove any suspect product found.

Forensic analysis of the haul has shown it contains dangerous level of methanol - a secondary alcohol used as antifreeze, solvent and cleaning fluid – and is unfit for human consumption.

Adrian Farley, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said:

“The public will be horrified and alarmed at these findings. The gangs behind this form of criminality have no regard for the devastation they cause. They show a complete disregard of health and safety at production sites which could have easily resulted in a major explosion and loss of life. In addition, they were fully aware the counterfeit vodka they manufactured contained highly dangerous chemicals making it unfit for human consumption – posing potential health risks to the public.”

He added: “We are keen to work closely with local residents and communities in the fight against this type of crime.  We would encourage anyone who knows of someone selling cheap alcohol to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or email customs.hotline@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk ”

Birmingham environment health officers have so far received reports of illness from two members of the public as a direct result of consuming Arctic Ice vodka, and reports of the product being sold at location in a number of different geographic areas.

Cllr Neil Eustace, Chair of the Public Protection Committee, said: “Illegally produced alcohol within the food chain clearly poses a significant risk to public health, and we'd urge all members of the public and business owners alike to be extremely vigilant. Alcoholic products being sold literally from the back of van to retailers, or under the counter or unmarked to consumers, may seem like a good deal, but in truth the true cost to anyone who consumes the product could be terrible.”

Traders and the public who encounter Arctic Ice, or any other suspicious alcoholic products on sale within Birmingham, are urged to contact the Council immediately in order that dangerous products can be removed from circulation as quickly as possible, potentially saving lives.

ENDS

For more information please contact Simon Houltby 0121 303 3503

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