CMO guidelines missing from two-thirds of alcohol labels

New research from the Alcohol Health Alliance has found that updated CMO guidelines are still absent from 70 per cent of alcohol containers across the UK – four years after they were introduced. In addition, nearly a quarter contained misleading, out-of-date health information.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance said: “The alcohol industry has been dragging its heels for four years in updating product labelling to display current CMO drinking guidelines. It is simply outrageous that the vast majority of products still fail to include up-to-date health guidelines. The message is clear: the alcohol industry is not taking the nation’s health seriously and cannot be trusted to regulate itself.

“It is time for the government to introduce mandatory labelling on all alcohol products with prominent health warnings, information on ingredients, nutrition and calories. We all have a right to know what we are drinking and mandatory labelling will help consumers make informed decisions about their health.”

Lucy Holmes, Director of Research and Policy at Alcohol Change UK said: “Alcohol is the third biggest risk factor to health behind tobacco and high blood pressure and has been linked directly to seven forms of cancer. The best way to reduce the harm caused by alcohol is for us to drink less. Yet our research has found that alcohol manufacturers have largely failed on their commitment to include drinking guidelines on labels, leaving consumers in the dark.

“In order to make healthy choices drinkers need easy access to the right information and consumers have a right to know what health experts advise. The guidelines should be plain to see on every alcohol container, and in a colour and size that most people can easily read without a magnifying glass.”

Katherine Severi, Chief Executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies said: “Alcohol creates a huge burden for our NHS, with alcohol-related hospital admissions at record highs. Providing consumers with accurate information about the health risks linked to drinking is a very basic first step in starting to tackle this major public health problem. However, these new data show alcohol companies continue to keep the public in the dark. At worst, this can lead to drinkers unknowingly raising their chances of cancer, heart disease and many more conditions.

“As consumers we all have a right to be fully informed about what we put in our bodies, and any associated official medical advice. This is why the British public needs the government to make accurate labelling of alcoholic beverages compulsory.”