Voluntary labelling target achieved by UK drinks firms

17th November 2014 - Fine Cut

More drinks firms are labelling their products to comply with a voluntary pledge on public health awareness, research has shown.

Companies that produce alcoholic beverages are increasingly providing information about alcohol units, NHS guidelines and drinking during pregnancy on their labels, according to recent findings. 

The government commissioned two independent market surveys this year to check the percentage of alcoholic drinks labelled to comply with the Public Health Responsibility Deal, which was signed by 92 companies in 2011.

Under the deal, drinks companies agreed to ensure that 80 per cent of their on-shelf products would be labelled with pertinent data, such as how many units of alcohol were contained in the products.

The research project revealed that more than 80 per cent of products assessed gave an indication of alcohol units, although just under 80 per cent were compliant with the Public Health Responsibility deal. The figures compare with the 62 per cent of products bearing units information recorded in 2009.

Around 90 per cent of the drinks surveyed also bore information about drinking during pregnancy, compared with just over a third in 2009, while 76 per cent included guidelines for lowering the risks associated with drinking outlined by the Chief Medical Officer.

More than 500 products were assessed in supermarkets and off licences, with the industry achieving 79.3 per cent compliance overall. 

Commenting on the findings, public health minister Jane Ellison congratulated drinks companies, saying: “It is fantastic to see the surge of companies proactively placing these labels on their products and highlighting important health messages in pregnancy.”

Chairman of the Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network Henry Ashworth described the achievement as “phenomenal”. Voluntary deals such as these allow producers to provide information for consumers “quickly and at no cost to the taxpayer”, he added.

Meanwhile, Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said that the target was ambitious and a first for Europe. The pledge highlights the industry’s commitment to promoting responsible drinking, he commented.

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