Earlier this month a number of councils in the London area seized fake bottles of Zam Zam, a water that Muslims believe offers healing powers in addition to being spiritually important to them.
Following the discovery of fake bottles in a shop in Notting Hill by Trading Standards Officers, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has urged Muslims not to buy the water.
Health officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the black market trade in Zam Zam, fuelled by a surge in activity from criminal gangs involved in a multi-million pound scam, which dupes purchasers into buying fake holy water which is labelled as if it is from Mecca.
The fake Zam Zam being sold in Britain is believed to be coming from 2 different sources. Firstly, customs officials say that they have found bottles of the fake water concealed in crates of fresh produce. Secondly, it is believed that large quantities of Zam Zam water is actually made here in Britain by crooks mixing tap water with salt.
With Saudi Arabia forbidding the export of real Zam Zam, Muslims are snapping up fake bottles whenever they see it, believing it to be genuine. However, there are health risks associated with the fake product.
Studies of fake Zam Zam that has been seized show it to be high in nitrates and arsenic, the latter being responsible for nervous system disorders and even death if consumed regularly.
Genuine Zam Zam, which is fit for consumption, has a higher than usual level of calcium and magnesium salts, in addition to containing fluorides. This may explain why it is believed to have healing and refreshing properties.