CMO guidelines will finally appear on bottles

31 July 2019: AHA member Katherine Severi, Chief Executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, commented on the announcement by the Portman Group that its members will display the Chief Medical Officers’ low-risk drinking guidelines of 14 units a week on their products:

“It’s a victory for the public that the Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines will appear on some alcohol products, after three years of delaying tactics by alcohol companies, and at the last minute before a government deadline to comply. But while this marks a half-step forward, it shows that the current system of alcohol industry self-regulation is failing consumers.

Drinkers deserve to be offered the same right to information as all other consumers. These proposals fail to provide details on calories and ingredients, meaning that shoppers who buy alcohol get less information than when they buy milk or orange juice.

UK citizens deserve to be given independent accurate information. Signposting consumers to alcohol industry-funded information sources risks misinformation and is simply no substitute for NHS online advice.

At a time when alcohol harms are rising, it’s just not fair that drinkers up and down the country are denied the right to make informed decisions about their health, simply because the alcohol industry refuses to provide accurate on-package information. Surveys show very few people understand the health risks linked to drinking, such as cancer, stroke and heart disease, all of which have increased in recent years adding more strain on our struggling NHS. Yet this information is not being communicated to the public.

We also cannot be confident that updated health advice will appear on products sold in UK shops any time soon, given that similar promises have been made and broken in the past. The alcohol industry was asked three years ago to amend its labels, so there is little excuse not to see the up to date advice on all major brands now.

This half-hearted pledge, by some parts of the alcohol industry, is a strong indicator that the UK deserves a fair system that sets a level playing field for all food and drinks producers. All alcohol products must advise drinkers about both the contents and consequences of consumption to empower consumers to make fully informed choices about their health.”

You can read the full story here. Check out our report Right to Know: How Alcohol Labelling is Failing Consumers for more information on alcohol product labelling, what information is required (spoiler: almost nothing) and what information is shown (spoiler: almost nothing).