Drinkers have been warned to stay safe this festive season after potentially lethal fake vodka was discovered on sale in Fife.
Bottles of counterfeit Smirnoff vodka were found in a shop and a pub in the Levenmouth area as part of an investigation by Fife Council’s food safety and trading standards teams.
Analysis of one of the bottles confirmed it contained chemicals which can lead to blindness and even death.
The details emerged in a report to the Fife Licensing Forum. The shop and pub have not yet been named but both premises will have their licences reviewed and may face prosecutions.
Officers visited 30 licensed premises earlier this month, following tip-offs from the community.
Douglas Hardaker, from Fife Council’s environmental health, said: “One of the vodkas was found to be dangerous and had things in it which could be seriously harmful.
“These are things where you are not getting what you paid for, you are getting a little bit extra and it’s not good for you.”
He said customers should follow the recommendations of the DrinkAware campaign, which advises buying alcohol from a reputable supermarket, off licence or shop, avoiding products sold at very cheap prices and looking out for poor quality labelling or unfamiliar brands.
It’s thought the fake vodka may have contained isopropanol, which is used in anti-freeze and some fuels. The substance has been detected in counterfeit alcohol seized by police elsewhere in the UK.
It can mimic the effects of regular alcohol, but also causes side effects including abdominal pain, sickness and dizziness.
Investigations are under way to determine whether it was made locally or shipped in from elsewhere.
Mr Hardaker urged people to be vigilant at Christmas and new year celebrations.
Paul Madill, NHS Fife consultant in public health, said consumers needed to be able to trust shopkeepers and licensees.
“People need to have confidence they are getting what they thought they were getting,” he said.
Licensing forum member Paul Smith, the managing director of Castle Leisure Group who represents the licensed trade, said it was disappointing to see people flouting the law.
“We would all like to see those people who peddle that type of illicit alcohol, while the rest of us comply with the rules and regulations, taken to task,” he said.