HARMFUL fake vodka is circulating in Sussex, Horsham District Council (HDC) has warned.
Experts say Horsham businesses and locals are at risk of purchasing and consuming the conterfeit vodka which contains more alcohol as well as a mixture of lethal chemicals.
West Sussex Trading Standards and the Food Standards Agency say labels to be on the look out for include Drop Vodka, Red Admiral, Arctic Ice and Spar Imperial.
The most recent case involving Drop Vodka – a product allegedly bottled in France or Italy – has been highlighted as posing a specific risk to health, as it contains the industrial solvent Propan-2-ol - also known as Isopropanol or IPA.
Previously, Smirnoff vodka and Glen’s vodka have also been the victims of illicit copies, whereby bottles contained 52.5 per cent strength alcohol despite labels claiming 37.5 per cent.
Subsequently, the counterfeits were found to include a range of chemicals often used in cleaning fluids, the consumption of which could lead to blindness and in some cases death.
Local off-licences, shops, and restaurant operators are warned to be apprehensive of low cost vodka or other beverages as the holiday season approaches, particularly those offered to them from outside their normal supply chain.
Suspicions should be raised by poorly printed or ‘self adhesive’ labels, duty stamps that do not fluoresce under UV light, invalid bar codes, and the lack of manufacturers’ addresses or lot numbers.
It is also worth noting that anyone involved in the licensed alcohol trade risked prosecution and the loss of their licence if found selling any counterfeit products.
Business operators and members of the public concerned that they may have purchased or been offered fraudulent alcohol are encouraged to contact Horsham District Council’s Environmental Health Food Safety Team on 01403 215403.