News item

Warning issued after new ‘brand’ of counterfeit alcohol seized in Staffordshire

People and businesses are being urged to contact the county council if they see an illicit and potentially hazardous type of illicit vodka on sale after six bottles were seized at a Burton shop.

The sale of counterfeit alcohol has fallen dramatically over the last two years as a result of a continued operation by Staffordshire’s trading standards team. This has led to 21 prosecutions across the county with the largest fine handed out at £10,000.

The latest seizure is a new type of vodka which contains t-Butanol – a chemical used in industrial solvents. If drunk, it can cause stomach problems, headaches, seizures and heart and respiration problems. The bottles have black labels with a red star and little other writing. Anyone who sees the bottles on sale anywhere in Staffordshire are being urged to call the county council’s Fight the Fakes hotline on 01785 330356.

Since August 2011, over 1,800 bottles of counterfeit have been seized across Staffordshire. The operation followed reports of counterfeit alcohol being sold in the north of the county. Trading standards officers visited every independent off licence in Staffordshire. Suspected counterfeit items were seized in 73 stores out of over 400 and tested in the county council’s laboratories. 

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Mike Lawrence said: “Our continued efforts to combat the sale of counterfeit alcohol have been a huge success and have had a positive effect on communities across Staffordshire.

“We have seen a big decrease in counterfeit alcohol and offending businesses are now complying with the law. It means we are removing the risk of Staffordshire people being harmed. However we know there will always be a potential problem and we are asking people to be vigilant, spot the signs of counterfeit alcohol products and inform us if they spot any on sale. Similarly we are asking all off-licence owners or managers only to buy products from a reliable source.

“We would like to reiterate the message that counterfeit alcohol is hazardous to health and can cause real damage. By focusing our efforts on stopping the sale of these products, we are helping to make this county a safer place where legitimate businesses can prosper.”

Mike added that tell-tale signs of counterfeit alcohol include:

Unfamiliar or unheard of brands

Suspect labelling which may not be aligned straight or have       spelling mistakes

Have different fill levels in bottles of the same brand

Have sediment in the liquid which should not be present



Tom Hobbins

Campaigns officer (media)

Staffordshire County Council

01785 276832

07976 369109 

DATE: 23 June 2013