Don't let dodgy spirits haunt you

Illicit vodka found on sale in Berwick.
Illicit vodka found on sale in Berwick.

Residents and shopkeepers are being asked to look out for cheap illicit vodka after it was found on sale in pubs in the Berwick area.

The illicit vodka has been passed off as Smirnoff Vodka and Glens Vodka. Generally the alcohol content of these products is below the legal and declared strength of the products.

Tests have found industrial alcohol in a sample and also that the product is not vodka and as such it was mis-described.

Now Northumberland County Council’s Business Compliance and Public Safety Unit, is warning people to be on their guard.

Councillor John Riddle, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing & Resilience said: “We need retailers to protect their customers by refusing to buy in products like this. They don’t know what’s in it and are trusting that it is safe to drink. Our message is that you just can’t be sure and shouldn’t buy it.

“Only buy from reputable suppliers who will provide the necessary paperwork that allows our officers to trace the supply back down the chain. We have made some shops put conditions on their licences controlling how they buy in spirits and the records they have to keep but can consider prosecuting others. We will look at taking licences away from the worst offenders.”

David Sayer, Business Compliance and Public Safety Unit Manager, added: “We currently do not know the scale of this problem.

“Trading Standards Officers have found illicit and counterfeit vodka in a number of pubs. The sellers have bought the bottles from itinerant sellers and have no paperwork to show who they bought it from. The fact that we are finding industrial chemicals in the samples tested shows that it is not even vodka. We suspect that industrial alcohol is being diluted and then sold as vodka.”

Any shopkeeper or publican who has bought such vodka and still has it in stock can surrender it to Trading Standards, who also want to hear from retailers who have been approached by anyone selling the product and from residents who have concerns about product they have bought.

Trading Standards can be contacted on 01670 623870 and ask for the Duty Officer.

If a member of the public thinks they may have bought fake vodka from a shop or a pub or club, they should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.