General, Trading Standards

Fake alcohol fears ahead of Diamond Jubilee and Euro 2012

Fake bottles of alcohol seized by Surrey County Council Trading Standards. A slightly wonky label and different levels of liquid aroused trading standards officers suspicions.

Fears over criminal gangs flooding the UK with fake alcohol ahead of Diamond Jubilee and Euro 2012 celebrations have sparked a warning to drinkers.

The safety message follows a prosecution by Surrey County Council Trading Standards of a shopkeeper in Staines-upon-Thames for stocking more than 200 bottles of fake booze including:

* 95 bottles of fake Glen’s Vodka
* 92 bottles of fake Blossom Hill wine
* 13 bottles of fake Jacob’s Creek wine
* Three bottles of fake Bollinger Champagne
* 600 packs of fake Superking cigarettes
* 10 pouches of fake Golden Virginia rolling tobacco

One of the bottles of fake wine contained a dead spider and a fruit fly.

Steve Playle, Surrey County Council Trading Standards investigations and enforcement manager, said: “The sale of fake alcohol can be linked to criminal gangs who turn up at shops offering cheap drink, often from the back of a white van. We’re concerned the criminal underworld will be looking to make a quick buck by selling cheap drink ahead of Diamond Jubilee and Euro 2012 celebrations.

“Our advice to shop owners is to only buy stock from reputable traders and make sure they keep the invoices. And we’d urge drinkers not to be tempted by cheap alcohol prices that seem too good to be true. The chances are the alcohol is fake and it could put your health at risk. People should also look at the quality of labelling to check if alcohol is counterfeit or not.”

Surrey County Council Trading Standard’s latest prosecution resulted in Balwant Safri, 38, owner of Staines Food and Wine in the Broadway, Staines-upon-Thames, being ordered to pay almost £6,500 in fines and costs at Staines Magistrates’ Court on May 9.

He pleaded guilty to six offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994, two offences under the Food Safety Act 1990 and one offence under the General Food Regulations 2004.

Safri said the alcohol had been supplied by a white van man. Surrey County Council Trading Standards officers seized the booze during two inspections in March and May 2011.

In an unrelated prosecution last year, a shopkeeper was fined £10,000 for selling vodka that could have blinded drinkers, following an investigation by Surrey County Council Trading Standards. The toxic tipple was found to contain 235 times the legal level of methanol when tested in a lab.

ENDS

Media requiring more information can contact Surrey County Council senior media relations officer James Oxley at james.oxley@surreycc.gov.uk

Notes to editors

Surrey County Council is working with traders to encourage them not to buy alcohol from disreputable suppliers. Anyone with information on the sale of fake alcohol should contact the Citizens’ Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.

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