An urgent warning has gone out to revellers throughout Staffordshire to stay safe during the festive season by avoiding dangerous counterfeit alcohol.
Staffordshire County Council has been carrying out an ongoing operation to stamp out counterfeit alcohol sales using Government funding awarded through the Proceeds of Crime Act in recognition of its work.
There have already been a number of prosecutions and licence reviews. The largest fine handed out was £10,000.
Counterfeit alcohol often contains potentially hazardous levels of methanol. Consumption of methanol can cause vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision and, in extreme cases, blindness.
Tell-tale signs of counterfeit alcohol include:
• Unfamiliar or unheard of brands
• Suspect labelling which may not be aligned straight or have spelling mistakes
• Different fill levels in bottles of the same brand
• Sediment in the liquid which should not be present
Staffordshire County Council's communities leader Gill Heath, said: "Our ongoing operation to stamp out counterfeit alcohol has been a great success and has prevented the sale of a large amount of illicit produce.
"While we have seen less illicit alcohol seizures, we know it hasn't gone away and so we're asking people to look out for the signs that alcohol may be counterfeit.
"People need to be aware that it is extremely harmful to health. We want people to have a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year and avoid dangerous goods."
Anyone with information about the sale of counterfeit alcohol in Staffordshire should call the Fight the Fakes hotline on 01785 330356 or visit the website here