New Year’s Eve partygoers have been warned over “toxic” fake spirits that could lead to blindness.
Cheap and dangerous counterfeit alcohol is being sold by rogue retailers, as well as licensed pubs and clubs, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.
The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, said it was issuing a fresh warning after several local authorities seized fake vodka which contained industrial strength levels of alcohol.
The strength of the substances could have led to vomiting, permanent blindness, kidney or liver problems, and in extreme cases, death.
Revellers and shoppers are being advised to look out for the “tell-tale” signs of counterfeit substances, including unfamiliar brand names, spelling mistakes and misshapen labels.
Cllr Morris Bright, Vice Chairman of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said it was “appalling” that rogue traders were willing to “play roulette with the health and wellbeing of their customers by prioritising quick profits above safety.”
“We want people to enjoy their New Year’s Eve celebrations, but anyone buying alcohol needs to look out for signs it could be fake because it could leave them seriously ill and, in extreme cases, cost them their life,” Bright added.
“People are advised to only buy alcohol from reputable outlets and be wary of any items being sold at suspiciously cheap prices, as they could be counterfeit.
“Councils target businesses selling fake alcohol all year round, but generally step up operations in the run-up to the festive period when rogue sellers often seek to exploit demand.
“Anyone selling illegal alcohol should think twice about stocking these dangerous drinks as we will always seek to prosecute irresponsible traders and encourage the public to report any suspicious business activities.
“Counterfeit alcohol is not only a serious danger to health, it harms legitimate traders and threatens livelihoods, with the counterfeit market funding organised criminal gangs.”
Anyone who thinks they have consumed fake alcohol should seek medical advice. The incident should also be reported to the local environmental health officer, by calling Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06, or the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.