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Fake whisky poses serious health risk

The counterfeit and real whisky bottles.
The counterfeit and real whisky bottles. Click on image or click here for larger version with the key identification points highlighted. Image © Crown Copyright
Counterfeit whisky, containing dangerous levels of methanol, is being sold in the Hatfield area.

The fake product is sold in bottles carrying forged Johnnie Walker Black Label Whisky labels.

Methanol poisoning includes ...

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision leading to blindness
  • Coma with breathing difficulties
According to the Food Standards Agency, the symptoms of methanol poisoning can be delayed for several hours. Anyone who consumes this counterfeit whisky might not be immediately aware of its dangers.

There is no maximum limit for methanol in whisky. However, the level of methanol found in this counterfeit product is 2000 times the normal level.

People who are buying Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whisky can check whether they have the real or counterfeit product in three ways ...

  • All counterfeit bottles have Spanish language rear labels and a fake lot code "L04P24878342" printed on the rear of the front centre label
  • The word ‘Distillers’ in the Royal Warrant statement on a counterfeit bottle neck label is incorrectly spelt as ‘Distilleries’
  • The counterfeit bottles have no "E" mark on the base between "700ml and 73mm".
Trading standards officers in Hertfordshire say the fake product is being sold in Hatfield, St Albans and Waltham Cross.

Anyone concerned should contact the Food Standards Agency on 020 7276 8888 or Hertfordshire Trading Standards on 01438 737300 or 01923 471300.

You can discuss this issue in the Forum

November 30, 2002

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