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Consumers warned about fake vodka sales

Counterfeit Glen's Vodka in London, Midlands and Scotland


Consumers wanting to save money on cheap alcohol are being warned that sales of fake vodka are rising across the UK.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued the warning after being made aware of fake Glen’s Vodka on sale in small independent outlets in London, the Midlands and North Scotland.

The warning follows news of a pre-Christmas crackdown on fake alcohol by Trading Standards, which seized nearly 2,500 litres of counterfeit wine and spirits. 

How to identify fake Glen’s Vodka

The fake vodka has several telltale signs. According to the FSA, the word ‘bottled’ is misspelt on the front label. It reads: ‘Produced and botteled in Great Britain.’ 

There’s also a mistake on the rear label, where it should read: ‘DRINKAWARE.CO.UK.’ Instead, it reads: ‘D-RINK AWARE.CO.UK.’

Other signs include bottles of the same product looking different from each other, bottles not being filled to the same level and vodka labels not being straight. 

Look out for:

  • An unusually low price 
  • Crooked, creased  or misaligned labels and branding
  • An unfamiliar or bad taste or aftertaste
  • A strong or overpowering smell

If you’re concerned about fake vodka in your area, report it to your local trading standards department. Read our guide on how to report counterfeit products.

Fake vodka seized in Scotland

Recent investigations in the Moray and Highland Council areas of Scotland led to 236 bottles of fake Glen’s vodka being seized. 

The fake vodka has typically so far been found on sale in small independent retailers, corner shops and petrol stations.

Geoff Ogle, director of the FSA in Scotland, said: ‘The Food Standards Agency continues to work with enforcement agencies across the UK to stamp out the trade in counterfeit alcohol.’

Dangers of fake alcohol

Fake alcoholic drinks can be produced using other cheaper types of alcohol, which can have serious adverse effects on your health.

Commonly used substitutes include chemicals used in cleaning fluids, nail polish remover, antifreeze and some fuels.

Alcohol containing these chemicals can cause nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, drowsiness and dizziness. The chemicals may cause kidney or liver problems and even comas. Methanol, found in some fake vodkas, can cause permanent blindness.

Councillor Dave Allen, cabinet member for Health and Communities at Derbyshire County Council, said: ‘The presence of these chemicals could mean there is a real and serious health risk to anyone if they’ve purchased or consumed the product.

‘Illegally produced alcohol is often sold at a much cheaper price than legitimate brands and can seem like a good deal but it is not worth the risk and shopkeepers found to be selling illegal alcohol face serious penalties including the loss of their licence.’

Join our food fraud campaign

We’re calling on the government, local authorities and the FSA to stop food fraud. A year after the horsemeat scandal, 40% of lamb takeaways we tested contained other meats. 

We think that people should feel confident in the food they eat, so join our food fraud campaign today.

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