Scary News That Fake Vodka Is In UK Off Licences. Again

Don't worry – we've got some tips on how to avoid the counterfeit alcohol...


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

We know that faked vodka exists in other countries – we recently reported on Cheznye Emmons, a girl who died on holiday in Indonesia after drinking gin laced with methanol. However, it turns out the problem of counterfeit spirits is even closer to home. In fact, there’s a factory in east London producing 7,000 fake bottles of Smirnoff a day.

The counterfeit alcohol, which is made from lethal chemicals such as chloroform and methylated spirits, makes a lot of money for criminals (7,000 botttles per day!), but can put drinkers at risk of blindness, organ failure and, in extreme cases, death.

It’s hard to spot the fakes, because, according to Black Market Britain: Undercover Sting, a documentary to be aired tonight on Channel 5, the packaging is uncannily accurate.

As well as concocting their own recipes for booze, criminals use hi-tech machines to re-create the labels of popular vodka brands to such precision that it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between them and the real ones.

‘This is a huge and growing problem. And it is sinister, because the bottles are often filled with toxic chemicals. The bottles they make look so realistic they would be almost impossible to spot by an untrained eye,’ Paul Connelly, who led the investigation, told the *Daily Mail. *‘And given that the factory is producing on such a large scale, it’s almost certain they are being sold in supermarkets as well as smaller off-licences.’

Gah. What to do? Well, first of all, this problem has popped up every now and then for the past few years – apparently there was a ‘deadly tide’ of it in 2011. This booze might not kill absolutely everyone whose lips it touches. That’s not to say it’s legit to drink it, so it’s great that the authorities are clamping down on fake alcohol – a recent raid done by HMRC officers saw two vans’ worth (that’s 4,700 litres) of illegal booze confiscated in Warwickshire, according to The Coventry Telegraph. And, obviously, that factory producing 7,000 bottles of vodka a day isn’t going un-checked either.

So, here are some tips from Drink Aware as to how to stay safe: 1) ‘Make sure you buy from a reputable supermarket, off licence or shop.’ 2) ‘If a deal looks too good to be true, it most probably is.’ 3) ‘Look out for broken seals on bottles, misspelled packaging and a UK duty label. Also be aware of niche brands you’ve never heard of before.’ Drink safe, people. Drink safe.

** Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson**

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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