Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA Press Release (2003/0434), 11 November 2003

PRODUCT SAFETY - Food Standards Agency issues new warning against drinking counterfeit vodka

The Food Standards Agency is renewing its health warning about counterfeit vodka contaminated with methanol after more illegal spirits were found on sale.

Tests last month on counterfeit bottles of Kirov Vodka, seized by Customs and Excise from an off-licence in Sidcup, Kent, showed they contained unacceptably high levels of methanol. Vodka should not contain methanol at such levels. If consumed, it could cause serious harm to health.

Anyone who has a bottle of this vodka should not drink it and should contact their local authority or the police.

The effects of methanol poisoning include abdominal pain, drowsiness and dizziness, blurred vision blindness and breathing difficulties leading to coma. Symptoms can be delayed for several hours and anyone who thinks they may have drunk one of these products should seek immediate medical advice.

The counterfeit bottles come in 70cl and 35cl sizes. Like the genuine ones, the bottles are clear, have a red screw top and have a white label bearing the name Kirov Vodka in red. However, the counterfeit bottles can be distinguished from genuine ones:

Local authorities are being asked to ensure this counterfeit is removed from sale. This latest advice follows a series of warnings from the Agency about the hazards of drinking these fake products. A 42-year-old woman died in March in Edinburgh, Scotland, after drinking counterfeit vodka.

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