Government wants health warnings on booze bottles

Alcohol brands could be forced to display health warnings on labels under measures being considered by the Department of Health.

Alcohol: Just add health warnings
Alcohol: Just add health warnings

At the launch of the DoH’s latest campaign to tackle alcohol abuse, Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said the drinks industry’s response to a voluntary agreement with the Government on labelling had been mixed and that it is considering legislation to ensure all alcoholic drinks carry health information.

The voluntary code of practice says alcohol labels should display five pieces of information – the unit content of each drink, a responsibility message, the address for alcohol information website Drinkaware, advice for pregnant women and daily drinking guidelines.

Merron says although there have been some “good” results from the voluntary code, others had been “disappointing”. Her comments follow a report by Alcohol Concern last September that found only 4% of products reviewed carried all five pieces of information.

David Poley, chief executive of alcohol industry body The Portman Group, says although all of its members carry the first three elements of the label format and some display all five, it acknowledges that take-up is not as fast as the Government would like.

“If we had better evidence of the value of putting detailed advice on labels, that would doubtless persuade more companies to comply in full,” he adds.

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