Trading Standards has warned retailers to be on their guard against a “growing problem” of counterfeit wine in circulation, after 600 bottles were seized from London off-licences.
The imitation Jacob’s Creek bottles contain “inferior quality wine”, although nothing hazardous, and are being offered to retailers for £2 each. They have been found on shelves for the same retail price as the genuine product.
Havering Council alone seized 340 bottles from 19 of its retailers. William Adams, its chief Trading Standards officer, said the illegal wine has come from China and looks very similar to the original product, but has spelling mistakes in the small print. One example shows the country of origin is spelt ‘Austrlia’ instead of Australia.
Adams said: “The seizures so far have been made in sole-trader retailers and the wine has consisted of various listed varieties including Chardonnay and Merlot.
“The operation has been fairly widespread across London and other regions and it’s expected to have reached as far as Bristol. Once something like this starts it will be everywhere. We’ve had it before with spirits but never wine.”
Simon Thomas, deputy managing director of Pernod Ricard UK which owns the Jacob’s Creek brand, said: “We are working closely with Trading Standards Institute to identify and remove counterfeit product from independent retail shops, as well to as ascertain its source. Our advice is to only ever purchase wine, spirits and champagne through official retail channels.”
In a separate seizure Brighton and Hove City Council recently seized an amount of brand labelled counterfeit wine from a unconfirmed number of independent off-licences in the city. It also reported that the number of incidents appears to be increasing.
The Trading Standards Institute’s lead officer for food, Corrine Lowe, said: “Counterfeit Wine seems to be a recent but growing problem across the country and has been mostly confined to the south. So far it has consisted of fictional Champagne brands containing sparkling wine and other well known brands containing poor quality wine. There are currently several ongoing investigations. If anyone has any suspicions we urge them to contact Trading Standards.”