Store Owners Have Until Sept. 1 To Get Extracto De Malta Off Their Shelves

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – New Jersey liquor officials have busted a ring which had been supplying illegal drinks to stores.

“It’s sort of an Eliot Ness-type moment, if you will. It’s bootleg liquor,” New Jersey Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reports

The state Alcoholic Beverage Control was first made aware of Extracto De Malta in stores when a NJ TRANSIT bus driver tested positive for alcohol during a routine test, “and indicated he had not drunk any alcohol,” Halfacre said.

What the driver bought was not the carbonated non-alcoholic drink Malta Goya, but the low-alcohol Extracto De Malta, from a corner store.

“The product is illegal to sell right now,” state Consumer Affairs Acting Director Eric Kanefsky said.

State alcohol officials said the illicit drink, which has about 4% alcohol by volume, has been widely distributed, sitting on shelves right next to sodas.

“We have found this bottle from North Bergen to Pennsauken,” Halfacre said. “We want it off the shelves. We want it immediately taken down for sale,” he said.

Halfacre said he’s notified store owners to get Extracto De Malta off their shelves by Sept. 1 or face citation. Two Bronx distributors of the drink have been arrested for selling it in New Jersey.

The drink is legal in New York State.

Have you had Extracto De Malta? Do you think it should be illegal in New Jersey? Share your comments below…

Watch & Listen LIVE