Public health minister praises drinks industry for hitting labelling targets

The public health minister has praised the drinks industry after a new report revealed it is hitting its targets for improving health labelling on alcohol products.

In 2008 just 18% of labels featured pregnancy warnings and 6% included the Chief Medical Officers’ lower risk daily guidelines.

That has now shot up to 91% carrying pregnancy warnings and 75% mentioning the daily guidelines, according to the report from Campden BRI.

The research firm examined a sample of over 500 products on sale in the UK from a range of national, regional and independent supermarkets and off-licences.

It also revealed the industry has also included health information on 80% of all products, in keeping with pledges made under the 2011 Responsibility Deal with government.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said: “It is fantastic to see the surge of companies proactively placing these labels on their products and highlighting important health messages in pregnancy. I congratulate industry partners who have taken part, and urge others to follow suit.”

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group and chair of the Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network added: “This has been a phenomenal achievement by drinks producers working in partnership with the Department of Health and shows how much we can achieve through innovative voluntary agreements.

“People now have important health information right at their fingertips on the vast majority of products on shelf. We are pleased to see awareness of both alcohol units and daily guidelines is increasing, and through voluntary action drinks producers can continue to deliver information to consumers quickly and at no cost to the taxpayer.”

Trade bodies also welcomed the news.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “The industry set itself an ambitious target, which is the first of its kind in Europe, and it is pleasing to see that producers and retailers have delivered on this pledge.

“The labelling pledge is a good example of the industry’s commitment to delivering meaningful change and promoting a culture of responsible drinking in the UK via voluntary action.”

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association Chief Executive, said: “The Scotch Whisky industry is committed to delivering on its Responsibility Deal pledges and we are therefore pleased that drinks companies, including our members, have achieved their voluntary alcohol labelling target. This shows what can be achieved from the industry and government working in partnership to tackle alcohol misuse and is one of many measures successfully addressing the problem.”

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive, British Beer & Pub Association said: “I am very pleased with the report – it shows the huge amount of work and progress that the industry has achieved when it comes to giving consumers a very wide range of information on bottles and cans, not just on alcohol unit labelling, but also Government lower-risk drinking guidelines and a pregnancy warning. The work continues, on this and a wide range of other initiatives that demonstrate our commitment to the responsible retailing of alcohol.”

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