First positive impact in EU Member States of denaturing alcohol
Recent data from EU Member States, such as from the National Alcohol Fraud Task Force in Poland, show that the amount of seized illicit alcohol coming from other Member States into Poland is almost zero after a procedure co-developed by the JRC for denaturing alcohol was included in a Commission Regulation to fight and prevent fraud in this area.
Alcohol (ethanol) for human consumption is subject to excise duties, while ethanol for industrial purposes, such as screen-wash, paints, etc., is not. To prevent the latter from being illicitly consumed, European Member States apply a wide range of strong-smelling and bitter-tasting agents called denaturants. The resulting denatured alcohol is unfit for consumption.
Before introduction of the harmonised denaturation practices, customs officers were faced with a multitude of legally possible ways of denaturation, which made enforcement cumbersome and offered more opportunities for fraud. By using the JRC formulation for marking alcohol exempted from excise, control authorities can identify illicit alcohol (denatured but afterwards cleaned-up alcohol) in a quicker and more reliable way.
JRC is currently working on the validation of an analytical method to equip customs laboratories with a harmonised testing procedure to enforce the Community denaturing formulation for completely denatured alcohol.