Warning to be on the lookout for fake booze

POLICE and trading standards officers in Lincolnshire are stepping up warnings about potentially deadly counterfeit alcohol that may find its way into pubs and off-licences.

The BBC East Midlands programme Inside Out revealed the back-street industry producing fake vodka is getting so ‘clever’ at the game that even landlords can’t tell the good from the bad.

In one case, fakers used the same glass bottles as the legitimate maker – and the booze had copycat labels produced by professional printers in Eastern Europe.

County police have seized fake booze from outlets around the county – but not so far in Spalding.

Dr Ravindranath Sant, a consultant in accident and emergency medicine at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital, said doctors there are on the lookout for patients with symptoms from drinking counterfeit alcohol.

He said typically the counterfeiters boost the alcohol content by using anti-freeze, methanol or both.

Dr Sant said: “Just 10ml of pure methanol can cause blindness and 30ml has resulted in death.”

Police say fake alcohol is being offered to pubs in branded bottles at around 20p less than the genuine article and landlords may have little reason to suspect it is counterfeit.

Senior trading standards officer Emma Milligan said: “Bottles we have seized in the past have contained toxic chemicals used in cleaning products that can cause serious harm, including permanent liver damage, blindness and even death.

“Look out for tell-tale signs like poor quality labelling, sediment in spirits, a loose cap, lack of UK duty stamps and a price that seems to good to be true.”

l If you spot any suspect alcohol, contact police on 0300 111 0300 or trading standards on 01522 782341.