Revellers looking to buy cheap alcohol to see in the New Year have been warned about the dangers of counterfeit vodka.
Council trading standard teams have recently seized fake vodka with high levels of methanol, which is also used to make anti-freeze and can lead to blindness. Industrial solvents have also been found in the bottles.
One shopkeeper was fined £16,000 after Surrey County Council seized bottles of fake Glen's Vodka which was found to contain 235 times more methanol than the legal limit allowed.
Signs that a bottle of vodka may be counterfeit include:
- The liquid inside smelling of nail varnish
- Wonky labels with poor quality print and spelling mistakes
- Bottles on the shelf not being filled to the same level
Councillor Paul Bettison, the Local Government Association's regulation spokesman, compared the situation with that in India, where dozens of people have died after drinking illegal alcohol.
He said: "We've all seen the dreadful scenes in India recently highlighting the fatal truth of what can happen if you drink fake alcohol.
"It is often made in uncontrolled conditions and those buying and drinking it will have no idea of its contents.
"Everyone wants a bargain, especially at this time of year, but surely the potential health risks far outweigh any financial savings. Purchasing it also does nothing to help legitimate businesses stay afloat.
"Frankly, if the offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If anyone is suspicious about a supplier or feels that they may have bought a bottle of counterfeit alcohol, please do not drink it. Instead, contact your local council or Consumer Direct for advice as a matter of urgency."
Fake vodka has also been seized by West Berkshire and Wokingham Trading Standards, who found 700 one-litre bottles of Drop Vodka that contained chloroform.
Horsham District Council has also issued a warning after finding fake vodka marketed as Drop Vodka, Red Admiral, Arctic Ice and Spar Imperial that contained industrial solvent Propan-2-ol.
Nottinghamshire County Council has also recently seized counterfeit vodka containing potentially dangerous chemicals.
Trading standards officers found high levels of isopropanol, which is used in cleaning fluids, and methanol, in bottles of Drop Vodka - which is not a genuine brand - and in bottles falsely labelled as Glen's Vodka.
Councillor Mick Murphy, cabinet member for community safety, said: "We are concerned about the growing problem of fake alcohol on sale in Nottinghamshire, especially as in this case, when it presents a potential danger to the public."