European Alcoho... / Media Centre / Newsletter / Issue 7, 2013 (... / Research, Repor... / Evidence confirms that urgent improvements are needed in alcohol labelling  

07/06/2013

Evidence confirms that urgent improvements are needed in alcohol labelling

This month the European Journal of Public Health Advance Access published an article by renowned researchers confirming the need for better labelling of alcoholic beverages.

As pointed out by the authors, despite the unarguable importance of choosing what, when, and how much to drink, consumers have less access to health and nutritional information about these beverages than they do about a glass of milk, a bowl of cereal or a soft drink.

Four elements were identifies as valuable for consumers:

- a list of ingredients

- nutritional information

- serving size and servings per container

- a health warning

The article has highlighted that given the considerable public health problem that obesity presents in most developed, and many developing countries, caloric information is crucial in terms of provisions of information to consumers. Furthermore, it is astonishing that no country in the world currently requires compulsorily this information to be given to consumers on the packaging of alcoholic beverages.

With regard to health warnings, and despite the effectiveness of prominent and graphic warnings on tobacco products, this policy tool is surprisingly unused when it comes to alcohol.

The authors highlight that alcohol labelling stand out as an underused way to empower consumers to make healthy decisions. Additionally, it is particularly baffling that no county requires disclosure of the number of calories in alcoholic drinks.

The evidence shows that labels which are composed of both nutritional information and health warnings (like in tobacco) would constitute the best approach. This would address the two issues that we are faced with while discussing alcoholic beverages- dietary information and warning of the dangerous effects on health (i.e. cancer, liver cirrhosis, dependence)

The authors concluded by noting strong support for enhanced labelling of alcoholic beverages of both health organisations and consumers worldwide.

Find out more about Eurocare’s work on alcohol labelling:

- Second Library of Health Warning Labels

- What's not on the bottle? Brief overview of state of play in alcohol labelling

- Eurocare Position on Health Warning Labels