Issued By
North Yorkshire
County Council

SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT

THE SPIRIT of Christmas present is haunting trading standards officers employed by North Yorkshire County Council.

For they've issued a warning to people who may consider buying their Christmas spirits from any source other than reputable outlets.

History shows that the run-up to Christmas has always led to an increase in the sale of counterfeit spirits and in particular Vodka. These can be so contaminated with methanol, a poisonous form of alcohol, that it could lead to serious illness or death. Symptoms of methanol poisoning include:

• Severe abdominal pain
• Drowsiness
• Dizziness
• Blurred vision leading to blindness
• Coma with breathing difficulties

The alert follows a number of similar warnings earlier this year involving fake Vodka and Whisky products contaminated with methanol. The latest incident occurred in Kent during November where genuine Kirov Vodka was deliberately contaminated with methanol.

Genuine bottles of Kirov vodka have a double-headed eagle on the bottle cap whereas the fake 'Kirov' has only plain red caps. Photographs of counterfeit and genuine products can be viewed on the Food Standards Agency website on www.foodstandards.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/kirovcounterfeit.

Councillor Carl Les, the county council's executive member for trading standards, said: “This counterfeit Kirov Vodka and many other similar brands could surface anywhere within the UK and consumers are urged to buy their Christmas spirits only from reputable sources thereby minimising the risk of purchasing dangerous counterfeit products. Anybody who has bought spirits like this, or is offered any, or indeed if any shop has them in stock is asked to contact trading standards." 8-12-'03

Contact: Rob Blacklock - 01609-768642 Mob: 07773-005165

Executive member: Councillor Carl Les (Con) 01677-423702 Mob: 07860-639600
Group spokespeople: Councillor Steve Shaw-Wright (Lab) 01757-708849; Councillor Mrs Caroline Seymour (Lib-Dem) 01642-710382