Fighting the Fakes: Are Counterfeit Products Harmful to Health?

Are counterfeit products harmful to health?
Alice Pattinson Addmaster
Written by Alice Pattinson

Most of us are aware that counterfeit products cost brand owners a lot of money. But the temptation of a significantly lower price, for a seemingly equivalent design, is often too great to ignore. Who could refuse a cut price 'designer' handbag or a bargain basement football shirt, after all, what’s to lose?

It turns out quite a lot…

US Customs and Border Protection international trade specialist Rob Alleman has said that many us are forgetting that counterfeit items can cause you physical harm. 

Are we putting ourselves and our families at risk for the sake of saving a few pounds? 

The Fakes Putting us Most at Risk 

In 2017 alone, 34,000 shipments were seized for carrying fake goods - up 7% on the previous year. The chance of us purchasing a counterfeit product is ever increasing. 

Items considered to pose health and safety risks are being seized every day. Of those seized, personal care items topped the list at 46%. 

Pharmaceuticals came in second at 18%, followed closely by consumer electronics at 13%. 

Scarily, illegal substances have even been found in falsely branded cosmetics, while counterfeit electronics frequently fail fire safety testing. 

Jonathan Guy, head of claims at Co-operative Insurance has gone further and made a correlation between a rise in the number of counterfeit phone chargers and house fires (increasing by 35% in 2017).

How to Protect Yourself 

The advice is to protect yourself, and people around you, by avoiding these potentially dangerous items. 

  • When shopping online look out for spelling and grammatical errors which are often indicative of poor attention to detail. 
  • Check to see if a full company address is provided - be wary if it isn’t.
  • Avoid visiting a website through an email link, search engines will direct you to the most trusted seller.
  • Ensure the website URL begins with https at payment stage, never disclose your pin and if you are unsure don’t enter your payment details.


The best way to way to be sure that your product is genuine is to buy it from a reputable seller. 

If it looks like a steal it probably is!

Protecting Our Brands

So, we know how to protect ourselves, but how do we protect our brand names?

Each year, counterfeit products cost millions through lost sales and the return of poor-quality fakes.

In 2016 alone, counterfeit goods cost the UK economy £17.3bn and this number is ever increasing.   

Technology to Fight the Fakes  

With previously unique holograms, watermarks and packaging features now being replicated in a matter of weeks, brand owners are turning to innovative technologies to fight the counterfeits. 

One way that brand owners are preventing fakes being fraudulently returned is by giving the genuine product traceability.   

Taggant technology, such as Addmaster’s Verimaster, allows brand owners to easily identify a genuine item upon receipt: reducing the marketability and profitability of fakes.   

 Verimaster additives help to fight the counterfeits

Verimaster additives can be easily incorporated into the manufacture of a range of materials, providing a covert response that lasts for the lifetime of the product. 

Surely it can’t be long before the counterfeit crooks have no where to turn? 


Find out more about Verimaster by contacting Addmaster, the UK’s leading supplier of technically innovative additives for the plastics, textiles, paper, paints and coatings industries. 

Back to Blog posts