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Fake alcohol on the rise

Published:  16 February, 2011

Trading Standards have warned retailers to be extra vigilant after officers found a high level of counterfeit alcohol in off-licences.

In a series of raids of licensed premises at the end of 2010, 26% of outlets were found to be selling counterfeit alcohol in south west England, 17% were doing so in Manchester and around 10% in West Yorkshire. Some counterfeit goods were found to contain high levels of methanol, which can cause dizziness and even blindness.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "This increase in counterfeit product is concerning, particularly as the production of these goods appears to be carried out by organised criminal gangs who are making products which could have potentially damaging effect on a customer.

"With the new wrongdoing penalties that came into force April last year, retailers can no longer use the excuse that they were unaware that the product was counterfeit. The onus is on responsible retailers to ensure that the products they are selling are legitimate. Retailers must therefore be extra vigilant when buying product and only purchases good from reputable sources."

Retailers can help prevent the selling of counterfeit products by buying from a trusted supplier, obtaining an itemised and dated receipt, looking out for labelling inconsistencies such as spelling mistakes on the label or the label not being attached straight, and being aware of bottles of the same product looking different or bottles not filled to same level.