Health information on alcoholic beverage containers

untitledThis was an Addiction research report published online last month looking at health information on alcoholic beverage containers: has the alcohol industry’s pledge in England to improve labelling been met?

Aims:  In the United Kingdom, alcohol warning labels are the subject of a voluntary agreement between industry and government. In 2011, as part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal in England, the industry pledged to ensure that 80% of products would have clear, legible health warning labelling, although an analysis commissioned by Portman found that only 57.1% met best practice. In a research report for Addiction it was assessed what proportion of alcohol products now contain the required health warning information, and its clarity and placement.

Design: Survey of alcohol labelling data.

Setting: United Kingdom.

Participants: Analysis of the United Kingdom’s 100 top-selling alcohol brands (n=156 individual products).
Measurements:
We assessed the product labels in relation to the presence of five labelling elements: information on alcohol units, government consumption guidelines, pregnancy warnings, reference to the Drinkaware website and a responsibility statement. We also assessed the size, colour and placement of text, and the size and colouring of the pregnancy warning logo.
Findings:
The first three (required) elements were present on 77.6% of products examined. The mean font size of the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) unit guidelines (usually on the back of the product) was 8.17-point. The mean size of pregnancy logos was 5.95mm. The pregnancy logo was on average smaller on wine containers.
Conclusions:
The UK Public Health Responsibility Deal alcohol labelling pledge has not been fully met. Labelling information frequently falls short of best practice, with font and logos smaller than would be accepted on other products with health effects
The full conclusion went on to say:
New labelling guidance could be derived from existingguidance on consumer products, such as that used on medicines, tobacco packaging and other products which, like alcohol, carry known health risks. Further research with consumers to explore the legibility and comprehensibility of text and logos is also warranted. Compliance with any labelling guidance also needs to be monitored and reported on entirely independently of alcohol industry bodies [23]

Full pdf

If the industry agrees to self-regulate and then falls short of its own standards where there is a health implication then the responsibility should become more formalised and independent in my opinion and in agreement with the researchers conclusion.

Edited to add 15th April 2016:

What’s not on the bottle? Alcohol labelling in Europe (PDF)

Skar began her talk by providing a brief history of Eurocare. Eurocare was established in 1990 with membership from nine countries, including the UK. Today, there are sixty member organisations, from twenty five countries, and a central secretariat based in Brussels | SHAAP/SARN, UK

4 thoughts on “Health information on alcoholic beverage containers

  1. I agree with you— some calorie & carbohydrate information would be helpful as well. Over here it’s usually seen only on the “light” beers xx

    1. We don’t even have it on light beers here (I don’t think) so anything would be progress Lori!! xx

  2. I agree. The “surgeon general’s warning” or whatever you guys call it is lame and mostly ignored, whether on alcohol, tobacco, whatever. But many people read the “nutrition facts” of every box they pick up. I imagine people would shit themselves to know their favorite beer was 220 calories a bottle, with the whole six-pack being 2/3rds of a day’s calories and an ungodly boatload of carbs.

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