Counterfeit Smirnoff Vodka Identified

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today states it has identified a small quantity of counterfeit Smirnoff Red Label vodka (1 litre bottles) on the Irish market.  This follows information provided to the FSAI from the Food Standards Agency in the UK where an investigation is ongoing into counterfeit alcohol.  The FSAI states today that whilst laboratory analysis for the Irish counterfeit vodka did not detect harmful ingredients, the alcohol content was 32% rather than the 37.5% in the genuine vodka.  The FSAI is advising consumers and food businesses to be vigilant when purchasing this product and if they have any doubt about its authenticity not to purchase or consume it.  

Prof. Alan Reilly, CEO, FSAI states that the analysis carried out to date on the counterfeit product has not identified specific food safety hazards; however, the source of the alcohol is unknown and there may be contaminants in other batches.

    “Given we have no information as to when or where this alcohol originates from, it would be unwise for anyone to drink it.  The counterfeit vodka was found on sale in the retail and pub sectors.   Food businesses should only source stock from registered distributors and wholesalers, as it is their legal responsibility to ensure the food and drink they are selling complies with all food safety and traceability requirements.  We advise people to look closely at the bottles they have or are about to purchase to seek to establish if it could be potentially counterfeit.  Whilst the counterfeit product is somewhat sophisticated in its design to almost mirror the original product, there are some notable differences consumers should pay particular attention to.”

The FSAI states that the:

• Counterfeit product is labelled ‘Produced in Ireland’ - the genuine product states  ‘Produced in the United Kingdom’ (however, if people have old product in their house that was purchased over 18 months ago that states ‘Produced in Ireland’ on the label, it will be legitimate)
• Counterfeit product has an address in Ireland – the genuine product has an address in the UK
• The quality of the printed labels is somewhat inferior on the fake bottles compared to the genuine product

The FSAI has contacted food business outlets selling alcohol to alert them to this incident and to ensure that if they find any implicated product to immediately remove it from sale.  

The FSAI is working closely with environmental health officers in the Health Service Executive, Diageo, the Gardaí and the Customs Service to seek to determine the source of this fraudulent activity.  It is also in close contact with its counterparts in the Food Standards Agency, UK on this issue.

The FSAI will provide updates as and when necessary.


See link showing the differences in the counterfeit product versus the genuine product