Counterfeit SPAR Imperial Vodka
Friday 22 August 2008
The Food Standards Agency has been informed by the Northumbria Police Service that they are investigating the distribution of counterfeit SPAR Imperial Vodka.
Islington Council have also launched an investigation after 70cl bottles of the counterfeit vodka were found on sale in a non-SPAR store.
The counterfeit vodka contains potentially harmful levels of methanol. The levels recorded could have serious health effects, including blindness, if consumed in large quantities.
No counterfeit bottles have been found in SPAR stores and there are no concerns associated with authentic bottles of SPAR Imperial Vodka.
No cases of ill health associated with this counterfeit vodka have currently been reported.
SPAR has told the Agency that the only legitimate route of purchase for SPAR Own Label 70cl is via a SPAR store and if offered for sale via any other means would be deemed suspect.
The Agency is issuing a food alert for local authorities to check for counterfeit bottles on sale in their areas and to take action if necessary.
The counterfeit SPAR Imperial Vodka has a hint of acetone smell (similar to nail varnish).
Bottles of the counterfeit samples are identified by the code QI:1445c and a smudged inkjet code reading that looks like 102234 04/08/02.
Legitimate bottles are notated by the following:
- 700ml66mm followed by two symbols and then the numbers 8809
There is no lot code present on the neck of the counterfeit bottle samples, whereas lot codes are present on all legitimate stock.
The photographs, which can be found at the link below, show the counterfeit bottle (left) next to the authentic bottle (right).
In addition to the Northumbrian Police seizure of 180 bottles from a transit van, the following seizures of counterfeit vodka have been reported to the Agency:
|Local authority||Number of bottles of vodka seized and detained on suspicion of being counterfeit||Date Agency notified|
|Newham London Borough||40||9 September 2008|
|Watford District Council||6||9 September 2008|
|London Borough of Havering||9||8 September 2008|
|Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council||6||8 September 2008|
|London Borough of Camden||7||5 September 2008|
|Thurrock Council||4||5 September 2008|
|Bristol City Council||53||4 September 2008|
|Broxbourne Borough Council||1||3 September 2008|
|London Borough of Haringey||936 bottles seized as part of a larger haul of illegal goods recovered from a joint local authority and HM Revenue and Customs raid on a warehouse on 3 September 2008||3 September 2008|
|Surrey County Council||8||3 September 2008|
|London Borough of Tower Hamlets||31||2 September 2008|
|Newcastle City Council||4||2 September 2008|
|Elmbridge Borough Council||8||1 September 2008|
|London Borough of Islington||8||29 August 2008|
|Essex County Council||2||29 August 2008|
|Swindon Borough Council||1||28 August 2008|
|Enfield , London Borough||36||27 August 2008|
|Elmbridge Borough Council||5||27 August 2008|
|London Borough of Waltham Forest||30||27 August 2008|
|Swindon Borough Council||4||27 August 2008|
|Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council||1 bottle received by local authority from consumer. Public Analyst testing proved it to be counterfeit. Subsequent visit to premises by local authority trading standards officer did not reveal any counterfeit vodka to be on sale.||26 August 2008|
|Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council||7||26 August 2008|
|Essex County Council||7||26 August 2008|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||14||22 August 2008|
|London Borough of Waltham Forest||14||22 August 2008|
|London Borough of Islington||14||21 August 2008|
|Monmouthshire||9||1 August 2008|
Members of the public are advised to report any counterfeit SPAR Imperial Vodka to their trading standards service at their local authority. To find the contact details of your nearest local authority you could use our online search facility.
Reports can also be emailed to our dedicated food fraud mailbox, firstname.lastname@example.org. All information received will be included on our national food fraud database, to help local authorities investigate and prevent known or suspected food fraud.
Further information about the food fraud database can be found at the link below.
The science behind the story
Methanol is normally found in vodka at very low levels, but high levels should not be present because if drunk it could cause serious harm to health. An excessive intake of methanol can cause methanol poisoning and the effects include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, drowsiness and dizziness, blurred vision leading to blindness, and breathing difficulties. Symptoms of methanol poisoning can take several hours to develop, so anyone who may have drunk this counterfeit product should seek immediate medical advice.