Warning About Fake Vodka

Dorset County Council's Trading Standards officers are urging retailers to take care when buying little known brands of vodka at extremely cheap prices, after they discovered some examples of illegal alcohol in the county.

Retailers have a responsibility to keep good records of where they purchase their stock so that, if a product is found to be unsafe, swift action can be taken to trace the source and remove the drink from sale. 

Businesses buying dangerous and untraceable stock from cold callers or without getting a receipt put customer health at risk - and may end up losing their licence to sell alcohol, as well as facing prosecution. 

Officers can, and do, suspend the supply of suspect stock pending the results of tests and can seize stock if they have sufficient grounds to believe it is not genuine.

Richard Herringshaw, principal trading standards officer said, "Recent test results on vodka seized from a retailer in the east of the county showed it contained ten times the permitted level of methanol. While this level should not endanger health it illustrates the lack of quality control on products like this. 

"It is highly likely that the hangover will be worse should anyone drink this spirit to excess. We also have evidence that no duty will have been paid on these drinks. 

"People should remember that some of the duty paid on alcohol goes towards paying for the health service we all rely on."

In another twist, several cases of fake vodka, some branded Rocka and some unbranded but bearing a red star, were found dumped in Holt and near Kingston Lacy. Samples were tested and have been found to be made from industrial alcohol, which while not dangerous to health, cannot be called vodka and again may give drinkers a worse hangover.

Emma Wilson, Health Programme Advisor at  Dorset Primary Care Trust, said: "In common with other fake goods such as tobacco, when it comes to drinking counterfeit alcohol you cannot be 100 per cent sure what you are putting into your body. 

"In other parts of the country people have assumed their drinks have been spiked, but their symptoms are down to the toxic chemicals in the drink itself. 

"Symptoms can include hallucinations, loss of sight, nose bleeds and vomiting and we would encourage anyone who thinks they have drunk fake booze to seek medical help. There is no point bagging a bargain if you pay with your health."

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