Seizures of counterfeit alcoholic and soft drinks by European Union (EU) customs officials in 2003 were "possibly more than twice as high for some products as in the previous year," European Commission officials have told just-drinks.com.

There are no precise figures for types of drink but the Commission says there was an overall 77% rise in the number of seizures of counterfeit alcohol, soft drinks and juices (plus foodstuffs) during the year.

Besides the commercial damage this caused, it was also "a growing threat to consumer health and safety", just-drinks was told.

Officials said the seizures of bogus drinks rose again in 2004, and by an even larger margin than the enlargement of the EU could account for, (final figures will come later).

This was "confirmation counterfeiters have now turned to mass-produced items rather than luxury goods."