22/12/2014 - Permalink

Public protection team warns about health risk from illegal fake vodka

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Shropshire Council’s public protection team is warning residents about the dangers of drinking illegal fake vodka containing screenwash concentrate, following the discovery of what is believed to be a large-scale bottling plant in Derbyshire.

Derbyshire County Council officers found evidence of illegal vodka production using unauthorised Smirnoff red brand labels on 70cl bottles.

They discovered hundreds of empty five-litre screenwash concentrate containers, equipment for filling bottles and approximately 20,000 empty bottles ready for filling − worth an estimated £280,000 if sold legitimately just under the recommended retail price.

Hundreds of unauthorised boxes marked with the Smirnoff brand and used Smirnoff labels were also seized.  Officers also removed a small quantity of what was believed to be the finished product. This is now being analysed to determine the content.

It is not known at this stage of the investigation whether or not the finished product might have been distributed.

Fake alcoholic drinks can have serious adverse effects on health. Drinking alcohol containing chemicals can cause nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, drowsiness and in extreme cases, blindness.

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member responsible for public protection, said:

“Counterfeit spirits are often topped up with toxic substances which pose a serious risk to health, so it is vital that people do not drink it.

“In addition, anyone dealing in counterfeit products runs a huge risk to themselves and traders should be careful about the products they stock, knowingly or otherwise.

“Retailers and consumers in Shropshire should let us know if they suspect counterfeit Smirnoff vodka is being sold.”

Anyone who thinks they may have purchased the product should look out for:

  • Unusually low price (average £15 recommended retail price for Smirnoff red label 70cl)
  • Misaligned, crooked or creased labels and branding
  • An unfamiliar or bad taste or aftertaste
  • A strong or overpowering smell.

No-one was present at the time of the raid and investigations are ongoing.

Anyone who is concerned about the taste or packaging of any Smirnoff product can call the company’s consumer care helpline on 0845 601 4558.

Consumers and retailers are urged to be on their guard for anyone attempting to sell them cut price alcohol and should report any concerns to public protection team: 0345 678 9000.