The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

South Ayrshire Council Trading Standards Strike Gold

SOUTH AYRSHIRE COUNCIL’S Trading Standards and Environmental Health Services have received a Gold Award from the International Federation of Spirit Producers (IFSP) in recognition of the work carried out to ensure unscrupulous bar staff or owners don’t dupe the public with substituted spirits. Members of the IFSP UK include major producers such as Diageo, Bacardi-Martini, Edrington, Pernod Ricard and Jim Beam Global.

[Pictured: South Ayrshire Council senior trading standards officer Hamid Gazem (left) accepting the award from Fraser Morrison of the Edrington Group.]

The Gold Award was presented to South Ayrshire Trading Standards and Environmental Health Services at the annual Trading Standards Conference in Bournemouth, where 5 Gold certificates, 11 Silver and 10 Bronze were awarded to local authorities throughout the UK along with training vouchers. South Ayrshire Council was the only authority in Scotland to be awarded Gold.

The award was in recognition of their efforts in ensuring that spirits on sale are genuine. Spirit substitution is the refilling of premium branded spirit bottles with cheaper alternatives for resale in on-licensed premises, pubs, restaurants, hotels, clubs etc.

The alternative spirits used can vary; they can be cheaper own-label spirits purchased from a supermarket or cash and carry, bootlegged brands or illicit spirits. Spirits substitution is not a new phenomenon as the first recorded incidence of substituting spirits dates back to 1872 when 30 pubs in Glasgow were surveyed, it was found that only two of them were serving genuine Scotch whisky!

In the last year one complaint dealt with by Trading Standards Officers involved the sale of counterfeit vodka from off-licenses. This led to 3 seizures of fake vodka from separate premises in South Ayrshire. This has resulted in two formal warnings being issued and two reports to the Procurator Fiscal. In addition by circulating these findings further seizures of the offending product were made by Trading Standards Officers in North and East Ayrshire.

South Ayrshire has also adopted new methods in detecting substituted sprits. The new method involves the use of the IFSP brand authenticator device, which simplifies the detection of substitution on the premises and reduces the need for submitting samples to the public analyst.

IFSP UK director Philip Scatchard said: “South Ayrshire Council has done a tremendous job to ensure that customers are served what they ask and pay for. Serving an alternative spirit is illegal and, in a small number of cases, potentially dangerous. We are determined to ensure that licensees do not gain an unfair competitive advantage by ripping off their customers. We will continue to be extremely active to weed out the small but significant minority of licensees that persist in refilling bottles with cheaper alternatives.”

The awards were presented by Fraser Morrison of the Edrington Group, who said: “We put a lot of effort into producing the best quality products and it is imperative that the customers are served what they ask for and are not fobbed off with a cheap alternative.”

Councillor Peter Convery, responsible for Trading Standards issues, stated: “This is a welcome encouragement to our staff. This shows that South Ayrshire Council is committed to maintaining the reputation of the area as one of the best tourist areas in Scotland, where local residents, tourists and visitors alike can enjoy their visit to South Ayrshire with the confidence that the goods and services they pay for are legal and genuine.”

A spokesperson for Trading Standards added: “Apart from our sampling visits we rely on complaints from members of the public. Indeed the case reported to the Procurator Fiscal came to our attention as a result of information received.”

If anyone has any suspicions about drinks in this respect they should contact Trading Standards in confidence Monday to Friday on 01292 616403 or by visiting the Trading Standards Advice Centre at 5-7 River Terrace, Ayr or the website at

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