WIGANERS are being warned about the dangers of counterfeit alcohol over the festive period after trading standards chiefs reported a rise in cases.
Fake alcohol, usually vodka or white spirits, can contain potentially harmful substances like chloroform.
In the past, off-licences and nightclubs have been fined for selling it.
Trading Standards chiefs say the booze, which is known to be on sale in high levels in the region, is extremely dangerous and can cause blindness.
Misaligned labels and liquid with an odour resembling nail varnish are among telltale signs of counterfeit vodka.
The Local Government Association in England and Wales warned that fake vodka could be deadly.
Coun Paul Bettison, its regulation spokesman, compared the situation with that in India, where dozens of people have died after drinking illegal alcohol.
He said the “dreadful scenes” of those deaths highlighted the “fatal truth of what can happen if you drink fake alcohol.”
Last month a Wigan nightclub stocked vodka “unfit for human consumption” with dangerous levels of poisonous alcohol, a court heard.
Owners of The Kaff were ordered to pay more than £8,000 after samples of their branded vodka tested positive for denatured alcohol.
David Collict, director of Archbrook Limited, the company that owns The Kaff and the Ibiza Bar in the town centre, pleaded guilty to the charge at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court this week.
Simon Ward, prosecuting, said officers from the council’s business compliance and improvement team visited the Clarence Yard premises in November last year following complaints of watered down vodka.
A batch of around 20 vodka bottles were found at the downstairs bar to be full but already opened. Those and some bottles from the upstairs bar were taken away for testing.
The court heard that a bar worker told the officers that the bottles had been opened to “save time”. Among the selection of bottles that were tested, one was sealed and proved to be genuine, one was unsealed, not genuine branded vodka but not dangerous. While two were unsealed, found to be not genuine, dangerous and unfit for consumption.
Mr Ward said: “The officers found that the caps and seals on some of these bottles were not the same. Consumption of denatured alcohol can cause vomiting, liver damage and blindness.”