City of York Council’s Food and Safety Unit has issued a warning over counterfeit spirits after a recent case was brought to court in the city.
Last week, a York Off Licence owner pleaded guilty to supplying counterfeit and potentially dangerous vodka, which were made from industrial alcohol diluted with tap water.
Mr Mehmet Altin, owner of the ELO Off Licence in Hull Road, admitted having counterfeit Smirnoff, Five Lakes and Arctic Ice vodka on sale in his shop in February 2011.
The vodka was discovered during a routine inspection by officers from the Food and Safety Unit. The Smirnoff and Arctic Ice vodka were lower in alcohol than the declared 37.5 per cent, but the Five Lakes vodka was found to contain 51.5 per cent alcohol.
In November 2011, the council was contacted by two students from York University, who had purchased a bottle of Drop Vodka from Mr Altin’s shop.
Drop Vodka has been found for sale across the country and is known to contain chloroform, which is potentially harmful.
When officers from the Food and Safety Unit visited to investigate, Mr Altin denied selling Drop Vodka. However, officers found six bottles of Drop Vodka on the premises which were seized and taken away.
At the hearing Mr Altin pleaded guilty to having the Drop Vodka and selling it to the students.
Mr Altin was fined £200 for each of the seven offences and was ordered to pay £1,000 towards the council’s costs.
Cllr Sandy Fraser, Cabinet Member for Crime and Community Safety, said: The availability of counterfeit drinks is on the increase. Some of these drinks, such as the Drop Vodka, are not only fake, but also potentially dangerous.”
Penny Coupland, Senior Food Officer at City of York Council, said: “Businesses need to ensure they buy their stock from legitimate sources, to avoid ending up in this situation. The fine Mr Altin received far outweigh any profits he made from buying the cheap vodka.
“We are also keen to remove products such as the Drop Vodka from circulation, due to the potential health risks. Members of the public can the Food and Safety Unit team if they are suspicious about any products on 01904 551525″