Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA Press Release (2003/0343), 11 March 2003

RECALL - Food Standards Agency issues updated health warning against drinking fake brands of vodka

The Food Standards Agency is issuing an updated health warning to the public as more bottles of Imperial Valkonov Vodka have been found. A similar fake brand, Kelvenoff Vodka, has also been discovered.

Bottles of Imperial Valkonov Vodka, which could contain unacceptable levels of methanol, have been found in Brighton. They are nearly identical to ones found nearly two weeks ago on sale in Loughborough, which tests revealed to contain high levels of methanol. They are one litre screw-top glass bottles, more like those used for mineral water than spirits.
The latest bottles have blue labels with a red stripe instead of the gold and silver labels on the original ones. This could be an attempt to confuse the public after the Agency publicised a detailed description of the bottles previously found in Loughborough.

In addition, similar glass screw-top bottles of another fake brand, Kelvenoff Vodka, have been found in Edmonton, north London. While the vodka has a different name, the bottles have the same bogus distributor details. It is prudent to assume that this vodka could also contain high levels of methanol.

David Statham, the Agency's Head of Enforcement, said:

'People should not drink this vodka. Bottles of Imperial Valkonov Vodka have been proven to contain unacceptably high levels of methanol, which can cause serious damage to people's health. These latest finds suggest that efforts have been made to change the look of the bottles and confuse the consumer. It is important to check carefully what you are buying and only to buy the genuine article from reputable suppliers.'

Methanol should not be present in vodka at such levels and if consumed, could cause serious harm to health. Effects of methanol poisoning include abdominal pain, drowsiness and dizziness, blurred vision blindness and breathing difficulties leading to coma. Symptoms of methanol poisoning can be delayed for several hours and anyone who thinks they may have drunk one of these products should seek immediate medical advice.

All the bottles are one litre clear glass bottles, similar to those used for mineral water, with gold screw-top lids. The original Imperial Valkonov Vodka had a gold and silver label, with the words 'Imperial Valkonov Vodka' and '1 litre'. The latest ones have blue labels with a red stripe instead. The label also bears the information '37.5%' and 'product of the E.E.C.' The Kelvenoff Vodka, which has a gold and silver label, is also marked 'Charcoal Distilled'. It is also labelled '37.5%' 'Produce of E.E.C..'and ' 1 Ltr'. The label also says 'Distilled in charcoal filters, a process inherited by the ancient Russian distillers for quality and purity of original Russian vodka.'. All the various bottles are marked 'Distributed for K.M.G 57, Bogdana Khmelnitskogo Str 236039 Kaliningrad Russia For The E.E.C.' in very small lettering above the barcode.

To go to main Foodlaw-Reading Index page, click here.