The widespread of fake alcohol drinks in Nigeria is becoming alarming.

The potential health risks associated with consuming these fake drinks are enormous and sadly, overlooked.

How To Identify Fake Alcohol Drinks
File image showing collection of various famous hard liquor brands in a store

Traders and manufacturers of fake alcohol engage in this business for monitory reasons, however, for consumers? we are not so sure.

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Could it be the hardship in the country that is making people settle for these fake, cheap drinks?

Or are they just ignorant of what they are consuming?

We want to believe that the latter is the case, because the hardship in the country is not enough reason for you to put your health at such risk.

What Is Fake Alcohol?

Fake or illegally produced alcohol is alcohol that is made in unlicensed distilleries or people’s homes to be sold.

Fake alcohol may be packaged to look like well-known, legally produced brands. This is known as counterfeiting.

In the last months, the number of fake alcohol factories that have been busted in Nigeria by security operatives is alarming.

Fake Factory In Badagry

Just last month, an illegal alcohol manufacturing factory operating in Badagry, Lagos State, was busted by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

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The agency, in a statement noted that its enforcement officers, aided by intelligence from the Nigerian Army’s 15 Field Engineering Regiment in Badagry, dismantled the operations of Chinedu Okafor, the manufacturer of the illegal drinks.

Mr Okafor, said to be operating from his residence, will face prosecution, and all illegal products, with an estimated value of over ₦50,000,000, will be destroyed.

Illegal Factory In Delta

In similar vein, a 45-year-old man, Chiemenam Adigwe, was nabbed by operatives of the Delta State Police Command for manufacturing fake alcoholic drinks.

The police accused the suspect, a native of Akpo community in Aguata local government, Anambra State, of mixing ethanol with water and then add flavor before packaging the fake drinks in empty bottles of popular beverage brands.

The suspect confessed to telling those he supplied that he usually orders the drinks from Onitsha.

Adigwe was apprehended on April 25, 2024.

The Couple 

How about the couple, Mr Austine and Mrs Magret Idemudia, who were arrested in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State?

Perhaps you had missed the gist.

Mr Austine and his wife were arrested by the Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan Lagos.

Operatives of the command had discovered the factory at Muibi Olawunmi, in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun.

However, during interrogation the couple confessed that they manufactured fake drinks, which have been circulating in the southwest region of the country for the past six years.

We can go on and on with the list of fake alcohol factories discovered recently.

Identifying Fake Alcohols

The truth is, identifying these fake products is not an easy task, because its manufacturers are very smart

They produce the fake alcohols to look exactly like its original, and in most cases, they make it even more enticing, with the colouring, labeling, and branding.

Alan Bryce is an interim head of the Fraud Advisory Panel.

According to Bryce, “alcohol plays a big role in our cultural, economic and social life, but with ha vast and complex market, it is very easy for criminals to feed fakes into the legitimate supply chain.

Health Risks Of Consuming Fake Alcohol 

Before we tell you how to identify fake alcohol drinks, let’s explore the many health risks associated with its consumption.

Our findings reveals that Vodka is the most commonly faked spirit.

Also Read: How Sachet Alcohol Ban Could Result In 500,000 Job Layoff

We advise that if you see vodka on sale at a really cheap price, it probably isn’t vodka.

Furthermore, properly produced and certified alcoholic drinks are made with ethanol which is a type of alcohol that’s approved for human consumption.

Meanwhile, fake alcoholic drinks can be produced using other, cheaper types of alcohol. Drinking them can leave you blind, in a coma or even worse.

Fake alcohol can contain chemicals used in:
1. antifreeze
2. screen wash
3. nail polish remover

How To Identify Fake Alcohol

Now, to the real deal, how to spot and avoid fake alcohol.

Always remember the ‘4Ps’:
1. Product – watch out for fake versions as well as brand names you have never heard of
2. Price – if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is
3. Packaging – look out for poor quality labelling, spelling mistakes and bottles that have been tampered with
4. Place – always buy your alcohol from a reputable off-licence or retailer

In addition to the above, also look out for:
1. Fill level – is it suspiciously high or low?
2. Colour – Whiskies from the same cask/batch should have the same colour, compare bottles side by side.
3. Extra labels – Keep an eye out for extra stickers some fraudsters attach to a real bottle to make it seem older and rarer.
4. Use tech – Let’s thank God for tech. Some brands use label holograms, the Bubble Seal seal system or chips in the cap.
5. Also, scan barcodes if any.

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