Warning over fake booze that can cause blindness and death

Fake vodka and other spirits can not only upset the stomach but cause permanent blindness, kidney or liver problems, cancer and death.
Fake booze can cause health problems, it has been warned. Pic: ShutterstockFake booze can cause health problems, it has been warned. Pic: Shutterstock
Fake booze can cause health problems, it has been warned. Pic: Shutterstock

It contains a lethal cocktail of chemicals that will do more than get your head spinning.

The bogus booze contain industrial strengths of isopropanol more commonly found in antifreeze, lotions and cosmetics which can lead to dizziness, vomiting, numb the sensations, blindness and even leave the drinker in a coma.

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Other substances found in fake bottles of spirits include ethyl acetate normally found in glues, nail polish removers and cigarettes which causes organ damage.

Acetaldehyde, another compound used in large-scale industrial processes and which occurs naturally in alcoholic beverages, is potentially cancerous if found in too high a volume.

In a bid to stop people buying dodgy drink or spotting if they are being served counterfeit liquor, Trading Standards chiefs are urging New Year’s Eve party goers to be wary.

Telltale signs that bottles are fake including unfamiliar brand names, sediment, wonky labels, spelling mistakes, different levels in bottles and very low prices which are “too good to be true”.

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People being served vodka in pubs and clubs should also check the smell - fake vodka will often smell of nail varnish.

The alert came following a series of raids on rogue premises and successful prosecutions in the run-up to the festive season.

In December, a Middlesbrough nightclub owner was given a suspended sentence and ordered to pay more than £4,000 in fines and costs for selling counterfeit vodka.

In November the owner of two bars in Consett, Durham was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs after selling fake vodka.

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Trading Standards seized more than 300 bottles of the counterfeit alcohol which was found to be made from industrial alcohol unfit for human consumption.

Over 130,000 litres of counterfeit vodka worth around £1.7m was seized from a factory in Wigan while bottles of fake vodka containing chloroform were seized from a Colchester shop.

A spokesman for the Safer and Stronger Communities Board said: “Everyone likes a bargain, especially at this time of year, but drinking cheap, fake alcohol could seriously harm your health, and even kill you, so people should avoid it all costs.

“Some shopkeepers clearly have questions to answer about how these items arrive on their shelves.

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“They need to think twice about stocking these products as we will always seek to prosecute irresponsible traders.

“Not only does fake alcohol present a significant danger to health, illegal sales undermine local businesses and threaten genuine jobs.

“Anyone suspicious about a supplier or who thinks they may have bought an alcoholic drink which may not be legitimate, should contact their local council as a matter of urgency.”

Anyone who thinks they have consumed fake alcohol should seek medical advice and report it to the local environmental health officer, by calling Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06, or the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.