WSTA and Crimestoppers warn of serious health risks from fake booze

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Counterfeit: a distinctive 'nail varnish' smell and horrible taste of vodka could be signs of spotting fake booze
Counterfeit: a distinctive 'nail varnish' smell and horrible taste of vodka could be signs of spotting fake booze
Operators needs to be aware of the serious health implications fake alcohol can cause according to charity Crimestoppers and the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

Fake alcohol can contain a mix of dangerously toxic chemicals and its side effects can leave drinkers bed bound for days, suffering blackouts, blurred vision and even short-term sight loss.

This year, Crimestoppers and the WSTA have launched a Christmas campaign to focus on counterfeit spirits – especially vodka – and urging drinkers to speak up if they have information about fake alcohol sellers, manufacturers, importers and distributors.

How to spot fake vodka

There are some signs licensees can look out for when looking for fake vodka:

  • Packaging – spelling mistakes, poor-quality labelling
  • Smell – fake vodka often smells like nail varnish
  • Taste – it will taste horrible
  • Sediment – pure vodka should always be clear and not contain sediment

Crimestoppers head of operations Dave Hunter highlighted the danger of consuming counterfeit booze.

He said: “Fake booze might seem like a good idea, especially with many people making the most of the festivities in the run-up to Christmas, however, knock-off alcohol is no laughing matter.

“It is incredibly risky to consume because it is unregulated and unlicensed so the consumer could potentially ingest a range of dangerous chemicals."

Anonymous call

He added: “If you suspect fake alcohol is being sold in a pub, bar, shop or venue, please let our charity know. You can speak to the Alcohol Fraud Reporting Line on 0800 234 6388 or pass on your information via our anonymous online form at www.alcoholfraudline.com​.

“You will always remain 100% anonymous. We don’t judge or ask any of your personal details. We will just listen to what you know and then pass it on to the relevant agency.”

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “The sale of illicit alcohol puts lives at risk and allows criminals to profit while costing the UK more than £1bn each year according to HMRC.

“Working with Crimestoppers, the WSTA is determined to help the charity clean up the black market for counterfeit alcohol.

“Although most alcohol retailers are legitimate, we urge the public not to take a risk to save a few quid and to report anything they suspect is fake alcohol to the Crimestoppers alcohol fraud line.”

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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