Use the three ‘P’s to check your drink

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Central Bedfordshire Council is on the hunt for premises selling illicit alcohol this party season.

As part of the build-up to Christmas and also the New Year’s Eve festivities, the council’s Food Safety Team has been out across the region checking that party-goers are getting exactly what they have paid for.

They have already carried out more than 50 on-site checks at businesses to make sure they’re not selling alcoholic drinks which have been watered down or swapped known brands with cheaper or fake alcohol.

And officers are continuing their checks throughout the festive season to ensure that revellers are not being ripped off.

The team is also advising drinkers to be aware of what they are buying and to use the ‘three Ps’ to spot fake alcohol:

Price – If a deal looks too good to be true then it most probably is;

Packaging – Poor-quality labelling, spelling mistakes and altered logos are all a sign of fake alcohol, genuine spirits should be labelled with a name and address. You can also check bar codes by using your smartphone to see if it is listed as the correct product;

Product – Look out for fake versions of well-known brands and be wary of unusual brand names you haven’t seen before. Vodka is the most commonly counterfeited spirit

Fake alcoholic drinks may contain dangerous chemicals such as cleaning fluids, nail polish remover and screen wash, as well as methanol and isopropanol (used in antifreeze) which can cause serious adverse health effects, even death.

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Services, said: “Central Bedfordshire has some superb venues across the region which will attract a lot of party-goers this Christmas. We aim to protect all our great businesses by identifying and taking swift action against those who act unfairly and illegally.

“If you are caught selling cheap or illegal alcohol, you will be investigated and are likely to end up with a criminal record, as well as facing everything from a fine and a possible prison sentence to a recovery order to pay back all the illegal profits.”

Businesses are advised to only buy alcohol from reputable suppliers and to keep an itemised VAT receipt.

Anyone concerned that they have not been sold what they have paid for should notify the team as soon as possible by calling 0300 300 8642 or emailing