Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

What’s your poison? Beware of fake alcohol this Christmas

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment

What will you be drinking at the Christmas party this year? How about a pint of beer? A chaser of whiskey? 

Or a shot of methanol or a dash of chlorine? Next time it’s your round make sure you are getting exactly what you paid for or you could be waking up with a lot more than a hangover this Christmas.

The Trading Standards Service has launched operation “Booze Control” aimed at detecting the sale of counterfeit alcohol over the festive period. Warnings are being given that Santa Claus will not be the only visitor this year, as Trading Standards Inspectors will be coming to a pub near you equipped with a sack full of equipment designed to detect fake alcohol. This aims to put an end to the Scrooges of Christmas who are dangerously exploiting both consumers and honest traders alike.

The dangers of consuming counterfeit alcohol are all too real. Fake alcohol has been known to contain toxic substances such as methanol, more commonly used in antifreeze, drain cleaner and paint stripper. This can have devastating effects on the consumer’s health by damaging internal organs and nervous systems, causing dizziness, blindness and in extreme cases even death.

Not only do Trading Standards have the responsibility of safeguarding consumers, they also aim to protect legitimate publicans who may be facing tough economic times this Christmas. In a highly competitive industry, honest businesses should not have to compete with unscrupulous traders who attempt to gain an edge by profiting from illegal and dangerous activities. 

With the Trading Standards Service carrying out a sweep across the country, traders are warned to be careful not to end up with a court summons. With the possibility of large fines, imprisonment and a damaged reputation, selling counterfeit alcohol is a risk not worth taking.

If you suspect that counterfeit alcohol is being offered for sale, Trading Standards Service encourage both Consumers and Traders to contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262, or make an online report at http://www.consumerline.org 

Notes to editors:

1. The Trade Marks Act 1994 makes it an offence for a trader to have in his possession for supply, or to supply counterfeit goods. 

2. The essential function of a trade mark is to guarantee the identity of origin of the marked goods to the consumer by enabling him, without any possibility of confusion, to distinguish the goods from others which have another origin.
 

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