General, Trading Standards

Unsafe vodka sparks health warning

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Unsafe ‘vodka’ containing potentially dangerous chemicals that pose a health risk has sparked a warning to drinkers and businesses from Surrey County Council Trading Standards.

‘Drop Vodka’ has been found for sale in off-licences, corner shops and petrol stations across Britain at rock-bottom prices, including just over the county border in Aldershot.

Tests on the illegal drink identified the presence of propan-2-ol, which is commonly found in industrial solvents, and methanol as well as other substances that could harm people’s health.

Surrey County Council Trading Standards has sent a warning to all relevant businesses in Surrey asking them to remove ‘Drop Vodka’ from sale if they have it in stock.

Steve Playle, from Surrey County Council Trading Standards, said: “Don’t buy Drop Vodka. It contains potentially dangerous chemicals that could be harmful to your health. If you already have the drink at home, pour it away or throw it in the bin, but please don’t drink it. If you do you’ll be playing Russian roulette with your health.

“Drop Vodka doesn’t actually contain enough alcohol to be legally called vodka. It’s not registered which means it hasn’t been through the rigorous testing process which all food and drink must go through before they can be sold.

“It’s likely criminal gangs are selling this stuff and are trying to make a profit at the expense of people’s health.”

The Food Standards Agency issued a warning about ‘Drop Vodka’ which has caused concern because:

* The levels of the chemical propan-2-ol detected in the ‘Drop Vodka’ product mean the product is a health risk.
* There are a number of labelling issues, particularly the lack of manufacturer’s details for traceability purposes.
* It has been found to contain 28.6% alcohol which is significantly lower than the required 37.5% to be called vodka.


Notes to editors

To date, the illicit bottles of vodka have been found on sale in England and Wales, specifically in the towns of Scunthorpe, Norwich, Wakefield, Leeds, Salford, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Milton Keynes, Potters Bar, Aldershot, Colchester and Cardiff, though it could be on sale elsewhere. ‘Drop Vodka’ has been found on sale in small independent retailers, corner shops, petrol stations and so on, but there is also concern that pubs and clubs may have been targeted by rogue sellers.

Methanol is normally found in vodka at very low levels. High levels should not be present because an excessive intake can cause methanol poisoning. The effects include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, drowsiness and dizziness, blurred vision leading to blindness and breathing difficulties.

To report the sale of fake items call Consumer Direct on 01622 626520.


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