Speaking to FoodQualityNews.com, a spokesperson for the FSA said that there is “an ongoing investigation” into finding out who owns the brand. As of yet the owner remains unknown but an agency spokesperson confirmed it “is working closely with local authorities to identify the people behind this fraudulent activity.”
To date, the illicit bottles have been found on sale in parts of northern England as well as in the south east and Cardiff, according to a ‘food alert’ statement released by the FSA. It is unclear where the drink was bottled with two separate labels stating two different European countries.
“Unfit for human consumption”
The agency stated that results of some tests carried out by local authorities (LAs) “identified the presence of Propan-2-ol and other substances that can be potentially damaging to health.” As the product is unregistered, it was not put through rigorous risk assessment procedures before it went on sale.
The discovery of these harmful substances means that the drink is in direct contravention of food safety requirements set out by EU law and is thus deemed to be “injurious to health” and “unfit for human consumption.”
Propan-2-ol is commonly found in industrial solvents such as cleaning fluids and de-icers and its consumption can result in nausea, vomiting and more seriously, anaesthesia and coma.
Although the existence of these substances has been detected in sample tests, the FSA spokesperson said that because the vodka is illegal, the agency is unable to clarify precise levels at present.
In addition to the health risks posed by Drop Vodka, the FSA has explained that several labelling issues have made it difficult to trace the product. Currently, two different Drop Vodka labels have been identified – one which states the drink was bottled in France, and the other in Italy.
Furthermore the labelling has also breached several legal requisites. The FSA has confirmed that the barcode is not valid, that there are no details of the manufacturer on the bottle and along with other missing requirements, “the general print quality of the labels is poor.”
The spokesperson for the FSA said that whilst “the production and circulation of counterfeit vodka is not a new problem, it is difficult to say whether or not… [it] is on the rise.”
However the spokesperson adds that the agency has been “raising awareness of this issue amongst LAs” and as a “direct result” is receiving more intelligence reports from them. It says that it will “continue to use all of the avenues available” in order to help eradicate this problem.
In the meantime, the FSA is encouraging all LAs “to publicise the [current] issue at a local level” so that any remaining bottles of illegal Drop Vodka can be seized and destroyed.