UK cases of counterfeit alcohol rise for second year

Poison beerThe number of UK authorities reporting cases of counterfeit alcohol has risen for the second consecutive year.

Last year three-quarters of surveyed UK trading standards regional bodies reported discovering counterfeit alcoholic drinks. The figure represents a close to 20 per cent growth on the figure for the previous year, which was itself a double-digit increase on 2009.

Officials from the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), which compiled the data, described the trend as concerning. The rise in counterfeiting of consumables was compounded by the second consecutive increase in the number of trading standards bodies reporting counterfeit tobacco.

As these products are intended for consumption the IPO is concerned about health implications. “Counterfeit spirits are typically made from industrial alcohol that contains toxic substances. The potential for serious harm to a consumer is high,” IPO officials wrote in the 2011 crime report.

After back-to-back increases alcohol and tobacco now account for two of the top five most commonly encountered counterfeit products in the UK, ahead of watches, CDs and software.

Seizures of counterfeit alcohol in the past year include the discovery of 30 bottles of counterfeit champagne and 70 bottles of fake Jacob’s Creek wine in shops in Berkshire. The retailers were warned by trading standards.

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