Revellers warned over fake spirits

New Year revellers are being warned to avoid bottles of fake spirits which have the potential to blind or kill people who drink them.

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Council trading standards teams urged shoppers not to buy or consume counterfeit drinks

New Year revellers are being warned to avoid bottles of fake spirits which have the potential to blind or kill people who drink them.

Council trading standards teams urged shoppers not to buy or consume counterfeit drinks if they are looking for cheap deals for celebrations to usher in 2014.

Tests on bottles seized in recent months have found dangerously high levels of methanol - a key ingredient in anti-freeze - among other industrial solvents.

If consumed, side-effects can range from nausea and dizziness to potential blindness and even death.

Shoppers are advised to look out for signs that bottles are not legitimate.

These include unfamiliar brand names, drinks containing sediment, wonky labels, poor quality print, spelling mistakes or bottles on display filled to different levels.

Mehboob Khan, chairman of the Local Government Association's safer and stronger communities board, said: " Everyone wants a bargain at this time of year, but by consuming fake alcohol people may be taking their life into their hands.

"These drinks are often made by organised gangs and may contain all sorts of toxic and dangerous substances.

"Usually, if an offer seems too good to be true then it probably is.

"If anyone is suspicious about a supplier or feels that they may have bought a bottle of counterfeit alcohol, please do not drink it and contact their local council as a matter of urgency."

Doncaster Council issued a warning after seizing 400 bottles of fake vodka labelled as "Selekt Imperial" in September.

Trading standards officers from Walsall Council issued an immediate warning to residents and party-goers this month after an investigation found six shops in the borough suspected of selling fake alcohol.

More than 180 bottles of illegal spirits were found - with a street value of about £2,800 - with "fake" brands including Teacher's whisky, Glen's vodka, High Commissioner whisky, Smirnoff vodka and Bacardi rum on sale.

Birmingham trading standards has been warning people to be on their guard this month after officers found popular brands of fake alcohol in shops across the city. Well-known brands such as Smirnoff and Glen's vodka have been found.

Nearly 300 bottles of illicit alcohol - including 70cl size Smirnoff and Glen's vodka - were seized. Officers visited more than 20 premises where labelling was fake and four where the alcohol content was not genuine.