Bottles of counterfeit vodka containing potentially lethal chemicals have seen seized in Salford.
Teams of Trading Standards officers searched 172 shops, off licences, pubs and clubs after the discovery of the toxic alcohol.
The first seizures were made on 18th November, when 15 bottles of Drop Vodka and 74 bottles that were falsely branded as Smirnoff Red Label were found in a shop in Langworthy.
The searches came after a resident contacted the council complaining that the vodka tasted “funny”.
A further 15 bottles were seized from a shop in Broughton the same day, and it is feared that many more could be on sale or have been bought.
So far, 150 bottles of fake vodka have been seized.
A series of raids of licensed premises at the end of last year found that 17 percent of shops in Manchester were selling counterfeit alcohol.
Salford Council officials said the bottles seized earlier this month contain “denatured alcohol, which is usually used as fuel for camping stoves and therefore unfit for human consumption”. If consumed it can cause serious poisoning with symptoms including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and could even induce a coma.
Laboratory tests revealed the bottles contain Isopropyl alcohol – used in cleaning fluids and as a fuel. It is highly flammable, and is also used in surgical spirit as an application to cool bedridden patients and to cleanse surgeons’ hands.
An investigation has been launched to determine who supplied shops with the vodka, and Salford council plan to prosecute the owners of shops caught selling it.
The labels on the fake Smirnoff bottles are stuck on by hand, and unlike the genuine bottles the glue is not in lines from mechanical application but in blobs.
They are also often stuck on slightly lopsided, and the bottles have no production number marking.
Cllr Rag Mashiter, Salford council lead member for the environment, said, “We can’t stress enough how dangerous this vodka is and the serious health consequences it could have if drunk.”