Worthing shop has licence suspended over ‘industrial vodka’

A SHOP in Worthing had its licence to sell alcohol suspended for three months after displaying “industrial” vodka on its shelves.

At a meeting of Worthing council’s licensing and control committee at the Town Hall on Monday (April 23), the committee decided the licence holder of the Premier Supermarket Express, Hassan El Samad, had acted “irresponsibly”.

Trading standards found eight bottles of unbranded vodka on sale in the shop in South Street, Tarring, which had been purchased for £50 from someone who walked into the shop.

Kyle Cherry, West Sussex County Council trading standards officer, said the real issue wasn’t what was in the bottles, but the fact it couldn’t be traced. He said: “There was no receipt or invoice for this product, and if we do not know where it has come from, we can’t trace it back down the food chain.We know what it contains, and it was not immediately dangerous to the public.” The public analyst report showed the vodka contained two alcoholic chemicals, propan-2-ol and t-butanol, which are “indicative of the alcohol being of industrial origin”. Councillor Roger Oakley said: “It’s an industrial alcohol that should not be present in something that’s made for consumption. It’s plausible this is an industrial chemical, that’s mixed with one or two other things. Like cleaning fluid.”

Chris Chatterton, defending, said El Samad was proud of his unblemished record. He said: “On this particular occasion a member of staff was supervising the store. El Samad received a phone call to say he has been offered some vodka for £50. He asked the member of staff to obtain an invoice. An invoice was not left at the store.”

The bottles of vodka were on display for two weeks and it is not believed any were sold. The council’s verdict was the licence should be suspended for the maximum period of three months. The council’s solicitor, Caroline Perry, said: “The reasons for the decision, are the committee found this case particularly serious. Mr El Samad was irresponsible in letting a junior member of staff purchase alcohol from an unknown seller.”