The illegal alcohol trade in Britain is estimated to be worth £1 billion, and has resulted in a number of recent deaths and life changing illnesses.
Due to the recession, seizures of counterfeit alcohol are up five-fold in five years, and accounts for 73 percent of all trading standards operations. These dangerous drinks have been found to contain lethal chemicals such as methanol, chloroform, bleach, computer screenwash, nail polish remover and anti-freeze.
The dangerous effects range from breathing difficulties, severe nausea, to blindness, seizure, come and death. The wine brands that have been targeted are Jacob’s Creek, Echo Falls and Blossom Hill, all being sold under slightly different names such as ‘Shardonnay’. Criminals are mixing fruit juice with industrial alcohol, such as anti-freeze.
Young people on a budget are particularly at risk, and are easily lured by fake alcohol pricing, where you can get a bottle of what might seem as legitimate wine for just £2. Vodka remains the favourite tipple to fake, as a clear liquid with little flavour or aroma.
The biggest operation to be discovered so far was in a rat infested building in Hackney in 2010, where 24 bottles of illicit vodka were being produced every minute.
Trading Standards Institute have urged consumers to watch out for what they call the ‘Four Ps’ – Place, Price, Packaging and Product. Buying from reputable outlets and looking out for deals is strongly advised, if the price looks too good to be true, then there is a chance that it really is.
Following these simple precautions could not only save you from a horrible headache, but from a back lash of health issues that come with the price of these illegal drinks.