Portman Group contests on-pack alcohol warnings

Alcohol industry group The Portman Group is challenging attempts to force alcohol manufacturers to use responsible drinking messages on packaging, with new research that claims that self-regulation is working.

A survey, which is due to be published on Thursday, says that messages such as “drink responsibly” and the Drinkaware website address have appeared on 3 billion drinks containers and on £150m worth of advertising in the past year.

It also claims that all Portman Group members, which together manufacture over 60% of the alcohol sold in the UK, are “unit labeling” their drinks so consumers know exactly how much they are drinking.

David Poley, Portman Group chief executive, says that although companies can determine how much people drink, they must do all they can to educate them.

He adds: “Producers are improving the nation’s drinking culture by promoting responsible drinking messages across their marketing.

“This commitment to responsible business and consumer education is helping to create a healthier drinking culture. Despite falling numbers of binge drinkers, too many people still drink excessively. That’s why our member companies are investing millions of pounds in the Drinkaware Trust to educate people about sensible drinking.”

Meanwhile, the Government is expected to take a hard line and force drinks producers to use health warnings on packaging (MW December 13).

The U-turn by the Department of Health, which previously favoured selfregulation, has been triggered by companies such as Diageo and Carlsberg opposing plans to increase labelling on alcohol bottles.

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