Drinkers Warned About Fake Alcohol Ahead Of New Year’s Eve Celebrations

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Why do we go out on New Year’s Eve? To see in the following year with family and friends (joking, but mainly hoping, that it’ll be better than the one on its way out)? To watch a few fireworks before paying over the odds for a taxi home? And then there’s the most important of them all – to drink (sensibly, obvs) to our hearts’ content.

The latter comes with new warnings this year because New Year’s Eve drinkers are being advised to steer clear from cheap fake alcohol – it can cause vomiting, permanent blindness, kidney or liver problems, and in extreme cases even death.

So whether you’re out buying vodka from the local shop, drinking it down at the pub or ‘borrowing’ a bit from your mate at a house party, be cautious.

Sky News reported that the Local Government Association (LGA) warning comes after councils seized counterfeit vodka from retailers, home-based sellers and also pubs.

Other tell-tale signs are said to include uneven labels and spelling mistakes. Credit: LGA
Other tell-tale signs are said to include uneven labels and spelling mistakes. Credit: LGA

If you need to know how you can tell the difference, fake vodka is said to often smell like nail varnish. So… pretty much the same as ‘healthy’ vodka then? Hmmm.

Other signs to look out for are unfamiliar brand names, crooked labels, spelling mistakes, very low prices which are ‘too good to be true’ (they usually are) and different fill levels in bottles of the same brand.

If anyone is found to be selling fake vodka, they face prosecution and the potential loss of any relevant licences after a series of recent raids on rogue premises.

Retailers selling illegal alcohol could also face fines of up to £5,000, be jailed for up to 10 years, get a criminal record, ruin their reputation, seriously harm their customers’ health and be liable for the consequences.

Revellers in central London after the New Year celebration fireworks. Credit: PA
Revellers in central London after the New Year celebration fireworks. Credit: PA

Alcohol fraud costs the UK around £1 billion a year because traders don’t pay tax on it, meaning they can undercut legitimate companies.

A couple who sold fake Glens and Smirnoff vodka from their pub were told to pay £3,712 in fines and costs after Trading Standards Officers paid a visit to the Black and Gold pub in Shielfield Park, Tweedmouth.

The selling of illegal spirits is against the law. Credit: PA
The selling of illegal spirits is against the law. Credit: PA

Councillor Morris Bright, Vice Chairman of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “It’s appalling that rogue traders selling illegal alcohol are willing to play roulette with the health and well-being of their customers by prioritising quick profits above safety.

“We want people to enjoy their New Year’s Eve celebrations, but anyone buying alcohol needs to look out for signs it could be fake because it could leave them seriously ill and, in extreme cases, cost them their life.

“People are advised to only buy alcohol from reputable outlets and be wary of any items being sold at suspiciously cheap prices, as they could be counterfeit.”

If you think you have consumed fake alcohol you should seek medical advice and the incident should be reported to the local environmental health officer, by calling Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06, or the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.

Featured Image Credit: LGA

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