Alcohol: Do you know what you’re buying?

Alcohol has a massive market and probably wouldn’t exist without the UK’s students rate of alcohol consumption. There is a huge range of alcohol from spirits to beers and alco-pops to shots, but do you actually know what you’re buying?

If you don’t, you need to learn more about alcohol and what it can do if you pick ones tainted with other stuff.

Students especially don’t take enough care to look at what they’re drinking. As a general rule, I stay away from supermarkets “own” brands and stick with what I know, even though “own” brands will be perfectly safe. Some con artists try and replicate popular alcohol and supply it illegally (unknowingly to the buyer) mostly to corner shops and small alcohol outlets. Vodka is the most copied spirit, and the most dangerous if consumed in large quantities.

In a recent raid in Leeds, 600 bottles of counterfeit ‘Premium Vodka’ were seized. After testing, the alcohol was found to contain methadone, a synthetic opiate used as a substitute for heroin addicts and a chemical which is found in crude oil. While it was found that this wouldn’t harm your health if drank in small quantities, as it is made illegally, doses are not regulated and so a bigger quantity of these chemicals in cheap, fake, vodka could cause serious harm.

Here are four tips for you students looking for cheap alcohol:

1. The logo
It is products that are trying to look like the popular ‘Glen’s Vodka’ and of course the ‘Smirnoff Vodka’. The labels will almost always try and imitate those brands, so that is a key factor when looking out for fake alcohol.

2.  The information
Spelling mistakes could be incorporated for copyright reasons, but these are a tell-tale sign of fake goods. Safety warnings may be foreign or completely missing from the information completely. If this is the case, put it back, and buy what you know is legitimate.

3. The quality
The quality of the printing on the label will be bad, sometimes smudged and difficult to read. This is another indicator of a counterfeit product.

4. Stick with what you know is real!
If you know that Savannah is a decent and safe alternative to Peach Shnapps, then drink it, if you know that Asda or Tesco’s own brand is safe, then drink it. If not, don’t be afraid to ask questions to the people in store, it’s what they’re there for, but don’t become a victim of counterfeit alcohol.

There have been incidents involving cheap alcohol which has resulted in serious illness. Counterfeit alcohol can contain high levels of methanol, which is a chemical that can cause liver damage, breathing difficulties, coma and even death. So be careful when you’re buying alcohol from your local shop!

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