Not so cheap and cheerful...
It's easy to be enticed by cheap alcohol deals, but beware, sometimes this so-called 'alcohol' is fake and can put you and your health in danger.
So, what is 'fake alcohol' & what's in it?
Counterfeit alcohol is produced in unlicensed distilleries or homes and intended for sale. This means you don't know what chemicals are in it or its strength.
Properly certified alcohol is made with ethanol - a substance safe for consumption in moderation. Common substitutes for ethanol include chemicals used in cleaning fluids, nail polish remover and fuels - such as methanol. Not things you'd opt to drink knowingly...
These fake products produce similar effects to ethanol, such as making you feel tipsy. However, they might also make you nauseous, dizzy, give you abdominal pain and could lead to kidney or liver problems - even coma.
Be extra wary when buying vodka - the most counterfeited spirit.
When purchasing alcohol remember the four 'P's:
- Place - Buy from a reputable supermarket, off-licence or shop
- Price - You know the score, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is
- Packaging - Look out for poor quality labelling and check seals and labels haven't been tampered with. Get the free barcode scanner app on your Android or iPhone to check the product isn't fake.
- Product - Opt for well-known brands and be wary of ones you haven't heard of. Be sure to check labels for dodgy spellings as these might not be obvious - 'drink responsibily'? Smell like nail varnish? Don't drink it!
1. No manufacturer or importer name/address
2. Dodgy spelling
3. Unfamiliar brand
Top tip: Spirits above 35cl and 30% alcohol should have a duty stamp - if it's not there, it's not legal - Here's what it should look like.
What to do if you spot the special stuff
If you think you might have consumed fake alcohol, seek medical advice immediately. You should also report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 04 05 06.
Slightly higher prices might be daunting but it's better to be safe and know what you're drinking.