Check that your vodka is safe – Weston-super-Mare

Counterfeit Smirnoff Vodka with potential health hazards has been discovered at a number of retail shops and bars in Weston-super-Mare.

North Somerset Council’s trading standards team was alerted to the problem by Avon and Somerset Police after a local retailer and member of Pub Watch became suspicious of a man trying to sell what looked like branded vodka.

Samples of the product were sent for urgent analysis to assess the risks to health. Isopropanol which is commonly found in screen wash was found in the samples.

The chemical can cause blindness and even death in large doses and early poisoning signs include abdominal pain, sickness or dizziness.

North Somerset Council’s trading standards officers and the police have today (Wednesday 17 December) launched an operation to remove suspect vodka, based on information received, to protect the public from any potential harm.

Officers have warned retailers and landlords what to look out for and checked their stock.

Mandy Bishop, assistant director of operations at North Somerset Council said: "As soon as we became aware of the problem we arranged for samples to be analysed.  Counterfeit vodka can cause serious health problems. Local traders need to check their stock and ensure that they can trace the products they sell to a reliable source."

Neighbourhood Inspector Sharon Bennett added: "This goes to show the great working relationship we have with our Pub Watch members and North Somerset Council’s trading standards officers. We are all working together to make sure Weston-super-Mare is a safe place for a night out.

"I’d ask anyone who has bought branded vodka at a suspiciously cheap price to check the label and if in any doubt contact Trading Standards."

Anyone with any concerns about counterfeit vodka should look out for:

  • poorly printed or misaligned labels

  • a lack of lot marking (this would be found laser etched on the glass bottle or ink-jet printed on the label)

  • sediment at the bottom of the bottle.

If the item is too cheap, it is unlikely to be genuine as alcohol duty and VAT would account for approximately L10 of the total price of the product.

If you have bought vodka that smells or tastes unusual please don’t drink it and report it to trading standards by emailing intelligence@n-somerset.gov.uk

Story and photograph courtesy of Avon and Somerset Story and photograph Police