Counterfeit Smirnoff Red Label vodka identified
The FSAI has discovered a counterfeit batch of Smirnoff Red Label vodka which displays a 'Produced in Ireland' label
19 December 2013
A small quantity of counterfeit Smirnoff Red Label vodka (1 litre bottles) has been identified within the Irish market by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
The discovery was made following information being provided to the FSAI from the Food Standards Agency in the UK where an investigation is ongoing into counterfeit alcohol. The FSAI said that whilst laboratory analysis for the Irish counterfeit vodka did not detect harmful ingredients, the alcohol content was 32% rather than the 37.5% in the genuine vodka. The FSAI is advising consumers and food businesses to be vigilant when purchasing this product and if they have any doubt about its authenticity, not to purchase or consume it.
Prof. Alan Reilly, CEO, FSAI said the analysis carried out to date on the counterfeit product has not identified specific food safety hazards. However, the source of the alcohol is unknown and there may be contaminants in other batches.
"Given that we have no information as to when or where this alcohol originates from, it would be unwise for anyone to drink it. The counterfeit vodka was found on sale in the retail and pub sectors. Food businesses should only source stock from registered distributors and wholesalers, as it is their legal responsibility to ensure the food and drink they are selling complies with all food safety and traceability requirements. We advise people to look closely at the bottles they have or are about to purchase to seek to establish if it could be potentially counterfeit. Whilst the counterfeit product is somewhat sophisticated in its design to almost mirror the original product, there are some notable differences consumers should pay particular attention to."
These differences include the counterfeit product being labelled as ‘Produced in Ireland’ – whereas the genuine product states ‘Produced in the United Kingdom’
Other signs to look out for include the counterfeit product having an address in Ireland – the genuine product has an address in the UK. The quality of the printed labels is also somewhat inferior on the fake bottles compared to the genuine product.
The FSAI has contacted food business outlets selling alcohol to alert them to this incident and to ensure that if they find any implicated product to immediately remove it from sale. The association is working closely with environmental health officers in the Health Service Executive, Diageo, the gardaí and the Customs Service to seek to determine the source of this fraudulent activity. It is also in close contact with its counterparts in the Food Standards Agency, UK on this issue, and has said it will "provide updates as and when necessary".