Portman rallies industry on health labels

The Portman Group is stepping up efforts to get producers to implement the labelling commitments made as part of the alcohol industry’s responsibility deal with government.

All companies that pledged to provide unit information, daily guidelines and a pregnancy warning on labels have been contacted as have those that made a commitment to carry information under a previous voluntary agreement brokered by the Labour government.

Portman Group will also encourage including a link to alcohol information website Drinkaware and a responsible drinking message, although this was not part of the deal made with the Department of Health earlier this year.

The alcohol industry, led by the Portman Group, wants to see the three elements included on 80% of all labels by 2013. It claims the remaining 20% will be mainly imported drinks.

More than 100 companies have signed up to the deal, including the ten biggest producers, with the hope that all producers will commit before 2013. It is not known what percentage of drinks already carry the three elements.

There is no statutory regulation to enforce producers to include health information, however, instead the Portman Group and DoH will monitor compliance. It is not yet clear on what the consequences of non-compliance will be.

The industry has been attacked in the past for being slow to include health information on labels. A 2009 report by Alcohol Concern found only 4% of products carried the five pieces of information the Portman Group is now encouraging producers to include.

Compliance guidance, including examples of best practice labels, is available from today (19 August). A database of the pledges, companies and brands involved will be published on the Portman Group’s website.

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