Sheffield drinkers warned after counterfeit booze raid

Prosecuted: Mini-market.
Prosecuted: Mini-market.
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COUNTERFEIT vodka containing dangerous industrial chemicals was seized from a Sheffield off-licence in a raid by council officials.

Sheffield Council is warning the public to take care when buying cheap booze during the festivities.

Officials say drinking some types of counterfeit alcohol can cause blindness and even death.

Trading Standards officers say they have made several prosecutions of shopkeepers for stocking illicit bottles of vodka or wine.

A council spokeswoman said: “In the most recent case, officers seized 36 bottles of ‘Russian Standard Vodka’ from Ecclesall Mini Market on Ecclesall Road.

“The shop was prosecuted and fined after analysis revealed the contents should not have been described as vodka, due to the levels of industrial chemicals present.

“Certain chemicals regularly found in counterfeit alcohol can lead to serious illness, even blindness, and often the percentage of alcohol is very different to what people expect.”

Sheffield Council is urging drinkers to buy from retailers they can trust and to stop drinking anything that tastes or smells unusual. Buyers should also look out for spelling mistakes or badly-applied labels.

Counterfeiters target well-known brands so customers should be alert even if they recognise the name, officials say.

Coun Jack Scott, council cabinet member for environment, recycling and streetscene, said: “Counterfeiters are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, but in the Ecclesall Mini Market case, the label claimed the so-called vodka was ‘made from the heart of Russia - Berlin’.

“Obviously, geography wasn’t their strong point. People may think that cheap booze they are offered is just duty free - but much of it is actually industrial alcohol full of contaminants and very dangerous.”

A bottle of counterfeit Polish vodka brought into the UK was found to contain 40 per cent methanol – just 15 millilitres of which would have caused death.