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The signs to spot of fake holy water after bottles of unofficial Zamzam water sold in Leicester

Leicestershire Live logo Leicestershire Live 19/05/2022 Shannen Headley

Fake bottles of Islamic holy water have hit the market in Leicester with authorities are concerned that thousands of bottles are already on sale. But there are ways to check if you are purchasing the ripped off version, says experts.

Muslims consider the water to be sacred, springing from a miraculously-generated source. Genuine Zamzam water is sourced from a well in Mecca in Saudi Arabia, and many tourists bring small quantities home when they visit the country.

But a raid in London saw 1,400 litres of the bogus bottles being seized by Trading Standards officers, with the fake version deemed not safe to drink. But customers can still spot subtle differences between the real and the fake.

READ MORE: Warning dangerous dupe of Zamzam holy water could be on sale in Leicester

Pictures provided to LeicestershireLive by a leader from the Muslim community show the main differences are with the fonts used on the bottles. The community leader, who did not wish to be named, said: "Labels of both fake and genuine bottles are almost identical and we want the public to be aware of the differences."

The logos on the lid are ever so slightly different, as well as the front of the branding and date. The base of the bottle is also another thing to look out for.

The fake version does not have the mark at the bottom to indicate its origin is Saudi Arabia. However the real bottles have an 'S' within the grooves of the base.

In addition, genuine bottles do not come with bags. These are currently being sold with the fake version in the UK.

Trading Standards officers received the tip-off that an importer based in the London borough of Ealing had imported a large quantity of the fake. A raid took place and more than 280 five-litre bottles were seized, with officers launching an investigation to determine how they arrived into the country.

The batch discovered by officers is suspected to have arrived in containers from Turkey. It is to be tested in a laboratory to determine its source and see whether or not it contains toxins that are harmful to the public.

The bottles seized would be illegal to sell anyway, not having the required information listed on the labels. Previous discoveries across the UK have found that unofficial Zamzam water on sale contained poisons, including high levels of arsenic.

Ealing officers said some bottles may already have been sold to consumers in shops around the country. It is believed Leicester in one of these locations.

Mohammed Tariq, Ealing Council’s senior trading standards officer who made the discovery, said: “We don’t know how these bottles entered the UK and we obviously don’t know if they contain toxins. But consumers should be aware of the risks of purchasing a product that hasn’t been tested before being put on sale.

“Our concern is that members of our Muslim community may be tempted to buy Zamzam water from street sellers. But people should consider avoiding the drink, until we can establish its source.

“The bottles will be formally examined and an investigation has been launched. What we do know is that the bottles already fail the labelling requirements - there is no information to confirm their source or what ingredients they contain.”

He said anyone who drank Zamzam and started feeling unwell should contact their GP. Official versions of the water can be purchased from the Rahma Mercy charity in Hartington Road, Highfields.

Zamzam water is sacred within Islam and its origins are recorded in Islamic texts. According to the Quran, the Prophet Ibrahim, his wife Hagar and their baby son, Ishmael, found water hard to come by after settling in what is now Saudi Arabia.

When Hagar thought Ishmael was dying, she searched for water with no success. After praying, a gush of water appeared under the feet of Ishmael and it has continued to flow from the spot ever since.

Today Muslims from all over the world visit the well. They believe it to be divinely blessed and full of health benefits.

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