Alcohol firms urged to list calorie count and health risks on booze labels

Drinks firms should list the calorie count of their products and the health risks they pose, says a North East campaign group.

Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 4:41 pm

Balance says drinkers are being kept in the dark about how to minimise the risks from booze as a major survey shows producers are failing to include basic health and calorie information on labels.

The Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) found more than seven in 10 alcohol products on UK shelves fail to display the Chief Medical Officer’s official ‘low risk’ guidelines of no more than 14 units a week.

Currently, the law only requires drink labels to include strength (ABV) and volume, meaning vital information such as the low risk drinking guidelines, health risks, calories and ingredients are only included voluntarily, despite alcohol being a class 1 carcinogen.

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Drinks firms should put more information on their labels to allow drinkers to assess the risks, says Balance

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More than half of labels included no nutritional information. 37% of labels listed only the calorie content of the container, and just 7% displayed a full nutritional information table.

Though the industry-funded Portman Group calls itself the alcohol industry’s “social responsibility body” and “leader in best practice”, Portman Group members were LEAST likely to provide health information voluntarily.Balance director Colin Shevills said: “This report is just the latest in a long line which shows that alcohol producers have been breaking their promises on alcohol labelling for the last two decades. People have a right to know what is in the drinks they consume, but the findings of this investigation show that alcohol companies are not just still dragging their feet but also displaying potentially harmful advice.

“Post COVID, it is important that now more than ever we enable people to look after their health, and not drinking too much is part of staying fit, healthy and resilient. However, there is still some way to go before the public will see labels which enable them to make fully informed decisions about consumption. Alcohol is linked to a wide range of medical conditions, including seven types of cancer, heart disease and strokes.

Colin Shevills of Balance.

“Most people in the North East back compulsory health labels on alcohol. But as it stands, the law requires more information to be displayed on a pint of milk than on a bottle of wine.”

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