Tequila producers have charged that lax regulation and corruption are fostering unfair competition from makers of potentially dangerous fake tequila.
The Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) says low-cost spirits sold as agave beverages are backed by a chain of fraud, corruption and bribery.
“There’s a huge over-tolerance on the part of the authorities in an environment plagued with impunity and illegal sales . . . with enormous consequences for the health [of consumers],” said public health specialist Arturo Cervantes Trejo.
Youths between 12 and 17 years old have said in various surveys that they purchase the beverages due to their low cost.
CRT general manager Ramón González Figueroa called the regulation of tequila “lax” and expressed concern over the sale of “fake tequila” in large grocery stores.
“We have to respect the rights of the consumers,” he told the newspaper Milenio. “The agave chain [of production] is not afraid of the competition, but is unhappy with unfair competition because the consumer is being played for a fool.”
The CRT has identified several brands it deems fake, including Rancho Escondido, El Mecatito, Mujeriego and El Compadre, among others.
However, there are some efforts under way to control the sale of illegal alcoholic beverages.
The council’s own data shows that 3.5 million liters of such beverages — including tequila — have been seized and destroyed by federal authorities since 2012.
Just last Friday, 43,000 liters were destroyed in Zapopan, Jalisco.
The president of the National Chamber of the Tequila Industry welcomed the confiscation of the liquor.
“We must raise awareness because the availability of alcoholic drinks is ever increasing. For this reason, we must reinforce the monitoring in at points of sale . . . and keep illegal products from being sold, consumed and exported,” said Rodolfo González González.
Investigations by a newspaper in the United States have brought accusations against Mexican resorts for serving tainted alcohol. The Milwaukee Journal has carried several stories about tourists claiming they were either drugged or sold bad alcohol.
The stories triggered a travel warning by the U.S. government, which in December began tracking reports by tourists of blackouts and injuries while on holiday in Mexico.
How to identify real tequila: 1. Type : Silver, Gold, Aged, Extra-aged or Ultra-Aged. 2. Official NOM (Mexican Official Standard) password and authorized product number. 3. Net content in liters or milliliters. 4. Producer’s name and producer’s and bottler’s address. 5. Warning label. 6. The word “tequila.” 7. Registered brand. 8. Category: tequila or 100% agave tequila. 9. Alcohol percentage in volume from 35% to 55%. 10. Text “Made in Mexico” (in capital letters). 11. Lot number. (CRT)