Research finds no guidelines on more than 70% alcohol labels

As well as missing out on drinking guidelines, the research also found more than half of labels included no nutritional information.

More than 70% of alcohol labels do not include the drinking guidelines that were updated more than three years ago, according to new research.

The Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) examined labels on 424 products in supermarkets and a newsagent in locations across Scotland, Wales, London, and the south-east and north-east of England.

As well as missing out on drinking guidelines, the research also found more than half of labels (56%) included no nutritional information, 37% of labels only listed a container’s calorie content while just 7% showed full nutritional content.

Nearly a quarter (24%) displayed misleading, out-of-date health information, such as the old UK guidelines or those from other countries.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, AHA chairman, said: “Alcohol labelling in this country is woefully inadequate and not fit for purpose if we wish to build a healthier society.

“It is disappointing but telling that members of the Portman Group, the body purporting to promote ‘best practice’ on labelling of alcohol products, are the least likely to display basic health information.

“It is time that health labelling is required for all products.

“The public must be granted the power to make informed decisions about their health by having access to prominent health warnings and information on ingredients, nutrition and alcohol content at the point of purchase.

“The industry’s reluctance to include this information on their products suggests profits are being put ahead of people’s health.”

The research also described health information as “often illegible”, with the average height of text about alcohol measuring 2mm when 3.5mm is required to be easily readable.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are committed to improved alcohol labelling so consumers have the information they need to make informed purchase decisions.

“The Alcohol Framework is clear that we expect producers to place the chief medical officer’s guideline of 14 units weekly on labels and cans and it is disappointing that only 29% of labels were found to be compliant.

“This new evidence provides us with important new data and we will consider its findings carefully.

“The Scottish Government is determined to reduce the harm caused by alcohol and we are considering if further measures might be necessary to ensure more producers make this information available on drinks containers.”

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