Issued By
Durham County Council

CONSUMER WATCHDOGS ISSUE BOOTLEG BOOZE WARNING TO FESTIVE BARGAIN HUNTERS Counterfeit whisky could cause blindness and coma

Festive drinkers seeking bargain booze in the run-up to Christmas have been warned to steer clear of bootleg whisky that could give them more than a seasonal hangover.

Durham County Council's consumer watchdogs urged drinkers to beware of counterfeit bottles of Johnnie Walker 'Black Label' whisky that could leave them blind and in a coma.

The whisky contains dangerous levels of methanol, and as the symptoms of methanol poisoning can be delayed for several hours, people who drink the contaminated whisky may not be immediately aware of the dangers.

But a spokesman for the County Council's Consumer Services warned that the effects include severe abdominal pain, drowsiness, dizziness blurred vision leading to blindness and the risk of coma with breathing difficulties.

So far, 50 bottles of the counterfeit whisky have been found on sale in the Hackney area of London.

But local enforcement officers are warning consumers and retailers to be on their guard for the product in this region and have urged people to be suspicious if offered cheap bottles of whisky from sources they are not sure of.

The counterfeit product can be easily differentiated from genuine Johnnie Walker 'Black Label' scotch whisky in the following ways : -


Phillip Holman, Durham County Council's Head of Consumer Services said : " We are working with colleagues in the Districts to check products on sale in the area, and we would advise anyone to let us know if they think this counterfeit whisky is being sold locally."

Deputy Council Leader Don Ross added : " This poses a serious risk to health and in the run-up to the festive season consumers should be particularly suspicious of anyone selling such products. "


Note to News Editors: For further information contact Peter Fleming, Assistant Head of Consumer Services on 0191 383 3584, or Duncan Castling, divisional manager on 0191 383 3056.

A photograph issued by the Food Standards Agency comparing the genuine and counterfeit bottles is available.