People are being urged to stay safe during the festive season and avoid potentially dangerous counterfeit alcohol.
Staffordshire County Council has been carrying out an ongoing operation to stamp out counterfeit alcohol sales and has received £15,000 from the Proceeds of Crime Act and funding from the Food Standards Agency in recognition of its work. The operation has seen 21 prosecutions and licence reviews. The largest fine handed out was £10,000.
Counterfeit alcohol often contains potentially hazardous levels of methanol. Consumption of methanol can cause vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision and in extreme cases blindness.
Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards leader Gill Heath said: “Our ongoing operation to stamp out counterfeit alcohol since 2011 has been a great success and has prevented the sale of a large amount of illicit produce. However we know it hasn’t gone away and so we’re asking people to look out for the signs that alcohol may be counterfeit. People need to be aware that it is extremely harmful to health. We want people to have a safe and enjoyable Christmas and new year and avoid dangerous goods.”
Tell-tale signs of counterfeit alcohol include:
- Unfamiliar or unheard of brands
- Suspect labelling which may not be aligned straight or have spelling mistakes
- Different fill levels in bottles of the same brand
- Sediment in the liquid which should not be present
Anyone with information about the sale of counterfeit alcohol in Staffordshire should call the Fight the Fakes hotline on 01785 330356 or visit www.staffordshire.gov.uk/fakes
People can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.uk or 0800 555 111.