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Look out for fake spirits this New Year

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Glen's Vodka: Fake on the right, original product on the left.

Glen’s Vodka: Fake on the right, original product on the left.

REVELLERS celebrating the New Year have been warned to watch out for deadly fake vodka being sold in the local area.

Party-goers are being asked to be vigilant after thousands of bottles of counterfeit vodka containing chemicals that could prove lethal have been discovered in several locations across the UK, including in South Wales. The Pembrokeshire Herald understands that high street retailers are now being alerted to the proliferation of fake drink on sale at bargain prices over the Christmas and New Year period.

The new warning comes after Trading Standards watchdogs seized 166 bottles of counterfeit vodka from three Luton shops.

And a raid on an illegal factory in The Midlands recently uncovered 20,000 empty bottles, filling equipment and empty cans of anti-freeze, according to police.

In Weston-super-Mare, fake bottles of Smirnoff found to contain a chemical used in anti-freeze were confiscated by the authorities.

In the Luton case, officers removed vodka branded Glen’s from shop shelves after noticing the label on the bottle said “Botteled” rather than “Bottled”.

Other vodka was found to have fake duty-paid labels. Three samples were found to contain dangerously-high levels of isopropanol, commonly used as an industrial solvent, and butanol which is used in paint remover.

A public health officer said: “Drinking these chemicals could cause serious illness or even death in extreme cases.

“Many unsuspecting consumers may think they are buying cheap duty-free alcohol, when they are actually buying fake and dangerous products.”

THE DANGERS

Properly produced and certified alcoholic drinks are made with ethanol – alcohol that’s safe to drink in moderation. But fake alcoholic drinks can be produced using other cheaper types of alcohol which can have serious adverse effects on your health.

Drinkaware’s Chief Medical Advisor Professor Paul Wallace explains: “Commonly used substitutes for ethanol include chemicals used in cleaning fluids, nail polish remover and automobile screen wash, as well as methanol and isopropanol which are used in antifreeze and some fuels. These other types of alcohol can produce similar effects to ethanol in terms of making you feel tipsy. But they are also potentially very dangerous.”

Drinking alcohol containing these chemicals can cause nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, drowsiness and dizziness. Drinking it can lead to kidney or liver problems and even coma. Methanol, the substance which has been found in fake vodka can cause permanent blindness.

HOW TO SPOT FAKE ALCOHOL

Illegal: Vodka bottling plant in the Midlands

Illegal: Vodka bottling plant in the Midlands

Jeremy Beadles, former Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirits Trade Association, believes most consumers won’t come across fake alcohol and says that it’s important to keep the problem in perspective. “The vast majority of alcohol in the UK is produced and sold legitimately,” he says. “Most pubs, corner shops, off licenses and other retailers are completely legitimate businesses and wouldn’t get involved with it.”

However, it’s important to know how to spot—and avoid—fake alcohol if you do come across it.

According to the Trading Standards Institute, people need to remember ‘the 4 Ps’: Place, Price, Packaging and Product.

1. Place: Make sure you buy from a reputable supermarket, off licence or shop. 2. Price: If a deal looks too good to be true, it most probably is. 3. Packaging: Look out for:

  • Poor quality labelling, including things like spelling mistakes.
  • UK duty stamp—spirits in bottles 35cl or larger and 30% ABV or higher have to have a duty stamp, which indicates that tax has either been paid or is due to be paid on the contents of the bottle. They’re usually incorporated into the label or stuck on the glass. If it’s not there, it’s illegal
  • Properly sealed caps. If the seal is broken, don’t drink it. Even if it’s not illegal, it could have been tampered with.
  • Fake bar codes. If you have an app on your mobile that scans bar codes, scan it and see if it’s listed as the correct product.

Product: Look out for fake versions of well-known brands and be wary of unusual brand names you haven’t seen before. Vodka, the most commonly counterfeited spirit, shouldn’t have any white particles or sediment in the bottle. If you see this, the vodka could have been diluted with tap water. If any alcohol tastes or smells bad, don’t drink it. Particularly look out for the smell of nail varnish.

If you come across what you think is fake alcohol contact the Pembrokeshire County Council trading standards team on 01437 764551.

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Tenby: Air Ambulance medivac patient with suspected broken leg

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PARAMEDICS asked for assistance, and the Wales Air Ambulance were subsequently tasked with tending to an incident at Tenby harbour on Sunday (Oct 2).

A male required assistance due to a fall around the beach area, and suffered a suspected broken leg.

A spokesperson for the air ambulance said: “Our overnight crew arrived on scene at 8.12 pm.

“Following treatment at the scene from our on-board medics, we airlifted the patient to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. Our involvement concluded at 10.31 pm.”

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Cleddau Bridge was closed due to concerns over person in distress

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THE CLEDDAU BRIDGE was closed just after midnight on Sunday morning after reports of concern over a person in distress.

A number of police units attended the incident, and an ambulance was put on standby, but thankfully was not needed. The bridge was closed for around a hour, with a diversion put in place.

Nearby residents noted the flashing lights from multiple emergency services on the bridge and posted statuses on Facebook wishing for the person’s safety.

Some other witnesses on the Pembroke Dock side of the estuary noted activity in the water from small vessels in the area under the bridge, which they believed may have been boats put on standby.

In a statement a spokesperson from the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “We were called in the early hours of Sunday morning at 12:43am to reports of an incident on the A477, Cleddau Bridge.

“We sent one emergency ambulance but were subsequently stood down.”

At just after 1am Sunday the police posted the following on their official Facebook page, confirming that the incident was over: “Cleddau Bridge has now reopened. Thank you for your patience.”

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Thirty bags of cocaine – worth £90m – wash up on west Wales beach

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE has confirmed that what is expected to be a large quantity of the class A drug cocaine has washed up on on a west Wales beach this weekend.

The Herald understands that a man walking on Tan-y-Bwlch beach, south of Aberystwyth, made the discovery early on Saturday morning – which at street value could be sold for as much as £90m.

The beach walker found 30 black bags on the sand which had been tied together with a rope and empty gallon jerry cans for buoyancy.

Inside each black bag were 30 x1kg blocks, labelled with the name of fashion brand Dior – the mark of a Latin-American cartel – indicating 100% purity.

A similar brick of cocaine confiscated in Australia (File)

Thinking the package was suspicious, the man called the police.

When the police arrived, one of the bags was cut open and inside was what appeared to be cocaine.

The suspected cocaine was then taken away by officers, and it has now been confirmed that the white powder inside the bags is believed to be cocaine.

A spokeswoman for Dyfed-Powys Police said: “We are investigating the discovery of a significant quantity of what is thought to be cocaine, spotted along the Ceredigion coast this weekend.

“Enquiries are being undertaken to establish how such an unusually large amount of the controlled drug came to wash up on the Welsh shore, following recent storms.

“The precise quantity is still being established and at this time no-one has been arrested in relation to this matter. Officers have thanked those who found the packages and their sensible actions in reporting the matter immediately.”

No arrests have been made.

The UK’s cocaine market is estimated to be worth more than £25.7 million daily, according to the National Crime Agency’s latest strategic threat assessment.

Figures released by the agency earlier this year revealed how cocaine seizures nationwide have soared by 161 per cent between early 2020 and early last year.

A suspected £90million haul of cocaine was found on beach
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