NOTTS: Festive fake booze danger alert

Equipment seized during raid on illegal vodka bottling factory
Equipment seized during raid on illegal vodka bottling factory

Festive drinkers in Nottinghamshire are being warned that buying a cheap bottle of booze could leave them with far more than just a hangover, after county watchdogs swooped to seize fake alcohol.

Nottingham City Council’s trading standards team recently swooped on a city off-licence which was found to be selling counterfeit wine. The bottles of Blossom Hill were confirmed to be fake by Trademark experts and seized.

Counterfeit alcohol has the potential to be extremely dangerous to people’s health. Although not the case in this instance, it can contain methanol which is highly toxic and found in cleaning fluids, screen wash and anti-freeze. As little as 10ml of the chemical can cause permanent blindness and liver problems in extreme circumstances.

Trading standards offices have also raided an industrial unit in Heanor , where they found evidence of illegal vodka production using unauthorised Smirnoff red brand labels on 70cl bottles.

They discovered hundreds of empty five-litre antifreeze 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.

Trading standards offer the following advice to consumers:

Always buy from reputable outlets – either mainstream shops or retailers that you regularly use and trust;

Look at the price and don’t be tempted by something that is clearly too cheap;

Always buy recognised brands;

Look for spelling mistakes or poor-quality labelling – this may indicate that it is counterfeit.

Jane Bailey, trading standards manager at Nottingham City Council, said: “We understand that there is a temptation to save money and buy cheap wine for the Christmas and New Year celebrations, but what most people don’t see are the devastating effects counterfeit alcohol can have.

“Low-price counterfeit alcohol might seem like a good deal but aside from the health risks, it also attracts crime and criminals into our neighbourhoods – some of whom are prepared to sell their products to children.”

Anyone with information in relation to counterfeit products can report it anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, while people should seek medical advice if they think they might have consumed illegally-produced alcohol. Call 111 for guidance from the NHS.