by John Harrington
Managed operator Mitchells & Butlers is trialling a new gadget that it believes is the most effective yet for testing if spirits have been watered down.
M&B believes use of the Alcofloat device could prove they have taken all reasonable steps to avoid serving diluted spirits if a case came to court.
The company is piloting the device at five of its pubs. Six of the fastest-selling spirit brands each week are tested and the results are recorded.
M&B's food safety and trading standards manager Andy Gordon said Alcofloat was faster than other testing devices and required far less liquid in order to work. Alcofloat uses oneteaspoon, whereas other kitscan use three to four measures.
"We were looking for something simpler to use than the normal abv testing kits," he said. "We wanted something simple that gives a yes' or no' answer and used a minimal amount of spirit."
Gordon said Alcofloat, which was developed by H&D Fitz-gerald, could be used as part of a "due diligence" defence if a case went to court.
"What we have to do is prove that we've taken all reasonable precautions to prevent something happening, and we need to demonstrate that.
"So by checking a sample of spirits on a regular basis, and recording the findings, if we are ever questioned we believe this would show that we have taken all reasonable precautions and the records would show due diligence."
He added: "Not only could the company be held responsible, so could the manager. It's about protection for them as well as the company."