New Year’s Eve partygoers are being warned to watch out for counterfeit alcohol laced with chemicals which can cause serious illness and even death.
Thousands of litres of fake booze have been confiscated nationwide, the Local Government Association (LGA) says.
Tests on one seized stash of illicit vodka found dangerous quantities of cleaning products and paint solvent which could cause vomiting, permanent blindness and liver problems if it was consumed.
Warning signs that your New Year bottle of booze might be a knock-off include wonky labels littered with spelling mistakes, as well as unfamiliar brand names.
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Very low prices that are “too good to be true” could be another hint you’re buying a potentially dangerous drink.
Simon Blackburn, the chairman of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said: “New Year’s Eve is the biggest drinking night of the year but people need to avoid suspiciously cheap, fake alcohol at all costs because it could seriously harm your health, and even kill you.
“Counterfeit alcohol also harms legitimate traders and threatens livelihoods, with the black market trade helping to fund organised criminal gangs.
“Rogue sellers should think twice about stocking these dangerous drinks as we will always seek to prosecute irresponsible traders.”
Anyone who thinks they have consumed fake alcohol are urged to seek medical advice and to report the incident to their local environmental health officer.
In Cheshire, a taxi driver was recently prosecuted after 26 litres of fake vodka unfit for human consumption and 108 bottles of illicit wine were discovered in his vehicle, as well as in a storage unit.
A trading standards team in Crewe seized 800 bottles of vodka suspected to be counterfeit – while in Staffordshire, fake knock-offs of Glen’s Vodka were taken off the shelves at an off-licence.
Officers in Lincolnshire also seized 3,570 litres of mostly counterfeit beers, wines and spirits from 20 premises following a joint investigation by police, the council and HM Revenue & Customs.