Product labels can serve a number of purposes, providing information about the product to the consumer, enticing the consumer to buy the product and warning consumers of dangers and health risks from the product.
Listing the ingredients contained in a particular beverage alerts the consumer to the presence of any potentially harmful or problematic substances. Even more importantly, providing the nutritional information such as calorie content allows consumer to monitor their diets better and makes it easier to keep a healthy lifestyle.
Unfortunately, on July 6 2011 the European Parliament adopted the compromise with the Council on the proposal for a regulation on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers with 606 votes in favour, 46 against and 26 abstentions (regulation No 1169/2011)
The vote was a culmination of some very heated debates over a number of contentious issues.
Alcohol (beverages containing more than 1,2% by volume) has been exempted from the obligation to list its ingredients and provide nutrition information; consumers will still be unable to know exactly what is in wine, beer or spirits or how many calories they are consuming.
By 13 December 2014, the Commission shall produce a report concerning the application of this regulation and address whether alcoholic beverages should in future be covered, in particular, by the requirement to provide the information on the energy value and the reasons justifying possible exemptions, taking into account the need to ensure coherence with other relevant Union policies. In this context the Commission shall consider the need to propose a definition of ‘alcopops’.
Unfortunately, the European Commission has not produced the required report consequently discussions regarding alcohol labeling at the EU level have stalled.
November 2014. In this paper Eurocare has compiled the key elements of how a comprehensive labelling in the EU should look like. This paper provides a useful brief background of the state of play of alcohol labelling in the EU, from the public health perspective.
Eurocare considers that labelling should be part of comprehensive strategy to provide information and educate consumers about alcohol and should be part of integrated policies and programmes to reduce the harm done by alcohol.
Consumers have the right to know the ingredients contained in alcoholic beverages they drink.
Eurocare would like to call on the European decision and policy makers to work towards prompt inclusion of a list of ingredients, nutritional information (kcal) and health information on the labels
Eurocare believes there is a public health interest in informing consumers, by means of labels, of the dangers and health risks associated to the consumption of alcohol. These messages would be a symbolic statement concerning the nature of the product and a low cost reminder that alcohol consumption has some risks.
In this document, you will find a number of sample labels that can be used as a basis for a more elaborated library.
On the 10th September in the European Parliament (Brussels) public health experts will be calling the European Commission to make changes to alcohol labelling legislation and allow consumers to make truly informed choices.
The All Party Parliamentary Committee on Alcohol Misuse is calling for several restrictive measures to deal with the “national pandemic” of alcohol abuse in the UK.
European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) welcomes the introduction of labelling requirement for allergens in wine.
Europe-wide action for labels on alcoholic beverages to warn women not to consume alcohol during pregnancy
Organizations and individuals in over 20 European countries are calling for messages on alcoholic drinks to warn women not to drink during pregnancy.
Eurocare (European Alcohol Policy Alliance) is extremely disappointed with the shape of the Food Information to Consumers legislation which exempts alcoholic beverages from obligation to list its content.
Brussels, 17 March 2011. Pick up just about any food or beverage product on store shelves and you'll find on the package information about calories, ingredients etc. Unless that is, the product is alcohol. Alcohol is one of the leading risk factors for death and ill health in the EU, especially among young people. It increases the risk of developing several types of cancer including those of the liver, digestive tract as well as breast cancer, it is responsible for 25% of deaths among young men aged 15-29, causes depression etc.
Eurocare (European Alcohol Policy Alliance) has issued today an open letter of support for the Thai government for its plans to introduce alcohol health warnings labels on packages of alcoholic beverages
16 June 2010. At the First Reading vote on the food information to consumers proposal the European Parliament has introduced an amendment to include a temporary derogation for all alcoholic beverages which exempts them from the obligation to list ingredients and nutritional information to all alcoholic beverages.
Eurocare (European Alcohol Policy Alliance) is extremely disappointed with the shape of the Food Information to Consumers legislation which exempts alcoholic beverages from obligation to list its content. This is despite the fact that alcohol is high in calorie content, carbohydrates and certain ingredients used in its production can cause allergies or intolerances.
Brussels, 30 January 2008. Eurocare is pleased that the Commission is taking into account consumers' needs for information regarding mixed alcoholic beverages (alcopops). However Mariann Skar, Secretary General of Eurocare, regrets the decision not to include all alcoholic beverages “this, in our view, is a missed opportunity to adopt a comprehensive approach to labeling and will not benefit the European consumers. Furthermore, this is not in line with the Commission's obligation to seek to improve the coherence between policies that have an impact on alcohol related harm stated in the EU Alcohol Strategy.”
Report commissioned by the European Commission, 2014
Stockwell, T. British Colombia, Canada: Centre for Addictions Research of BC, February 2006
Claire Wilkinson, Robin Room (2009) Drug and Alcohol Review, 28, 426–435
The impact of more visible standard drink labelling on youth alcohol consumption: Helping young people to drink (ir)responsibly?
Jones, S.C. and Gregory, P. (2009) in Drug and Alcohol Review, 28 (3), 230-234.