Mansfield off-licence Ozzy Booze fined for selling counterfeit vodka containing traces of methanol

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A Mansfield off-license which sold counterfeit vodka which contained traces of methanol - a chemical that can cause blindness when drunk in large quantities - has been hit with a £1,500 fine by Mansfield Magistrates.

Trading Standards Officers from Nottinghamshire County Council visited Ozzy Booze in Westfield Lane last July after receiving an anonymous complaint about ‘strange tasting vodka’ on sale there.

The officers seized nine bottles of counterfeit vodka, labelled as Glen’s which was later found to contain high levels of Methanol and 6.4 per cent less alcohol content than stated on the label.

Nine bottles of Arctic Ice vodka, an unregistered brand which was found to contain 2.4 per cent less alcohol content than stated on the label.

By law, retailers have to keep records of who supplied the food and drink they sell at their premises so that authorities can trace the products back to a wholesaler or manufacturer if necessary.

No records were present in this case.

Double Decker Ltd, trading as Ozzy Booze, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Trade Marks Act and breaches of General Food Regulations and the Food Safety Act at the hearing on Thursday 4th April.

Mr Haydar Kaya, the sole director of Double Decker Ltd, admitted two breaches of the Food Safety Act and two breaches of the General Food Regulations. He was fined £500.

Prosecution costs of more than £700 were awarded to Nottinghamshire County Council.

The action is part of Nottinghamshire County Council’s on-going blitz on retailers selling counterfeit booze. Last year Nottinghamshire Trading Standards Officers seized 79 bottles of counterfeit alcohol from shops in the county.

Coun Mick Murphy, cabinet member for community safety at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “Retailers selling counterfeit or unregistered alcohol are risking the health of their customers to make a quick buck and it’s something we are determined to stamp out.

“Retailers have a duty of care to ensure that the products they are selling are safe and legal. If they fail in this duty of care, Nottinghamshire Trading Standards will not hesitate to take the strongest available action.

“Shoppers should be vigilant when purchasing alcohol - look for the telltale signs of counterfeits and if you are suspicious report it to trading standards immediately.”

Counterfeit spirits and wines, even good copies, can often contain one or several of the following flaws:

Spelling mistakes on the label

Bottles of the same brand looking slightly different

Bottles not filled to the same level

Poor quality printing of labels or labels not being straight

A smell of nail varnish

An unusual taste

Anyone who suspects they may have purchased, been offered or seen counterfeit alcohol on sale should call the Citizens advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 40 50 60.