Alert over illegal sale of alcohol

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COUNCIL chiefs have pledged to crack down on counterfeit alcohol being sold across the borough.

The warning comes as fears grow that the Government’s minimum alcohol pricing strategy could lead to a surge in black market booze being sold as drinkers look to beat the rising cost of their favourite tipples.

Speaking at an alcohol strategy conference earlier this week, the Local Government Association (LGA) said it was concerned raising the cost of alcohol will lead people to try potentially dangerous counterfeit wines and spirits which could lead to blindness and even death if drunk. Black market alcohol has been found to contain extremely high levels of methanol, which is also used in antifreeze, and chemicals used in pesticides and cleaning fluids.

Wigan Council said it was aware of the potential for minimum alcohol pricing to lead to people buying fake brands and will be monitoring the situation closely. The council also confirmed that raids were taking place in the borough to seize illegal alcohol.

Julie Middlehurst, service manager for Trading Standards and Licensing, said: “The council is committed to cracking down on the illegal trade in fake alcohol and the black market trade in duty free booze brought back from abroad.

“Counterfeit alcohol is not only illegal, it can be highly dangerous as well. Often it is made from chemicals and industrial alcohol never intended for human consumption and therefore can be potentially hazardous to health. Working with our partners in Revenue and Customs, the council has been pro-active in seizing significant amounts of duty free wine and spirits intended for illegal re-sale. We recognise that fake and duty-free alcohol could have implications for government’s minimum pricing proposals and we will continue to remain vigilant.”

The LGA has also produced a list of signs which shoppers should look out for to check if a bottle of alcohol is genuine or not.

It includes spelling mistakes on the label, bottles of the same brand which look slightly different, bottles which are not filled to the same level, poor quality labels or labels not being attached to the bottle straight, a smell of nail varnish or an unusual taste.