Department of Health and Social Care
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Sensible drinking advice on all bottles of alcohol

Sensible drinking advice on all bottles of alcohol

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release (2007/0132) issued by The Government News Network on 28 May 2007

By the end of 2008 the Government expects all alcoholic drinks labels to include alcohol unit information, following a ground-breaking agreement between Government and the drinks industry.

Most people are aware of units as a measure of alcohol consumption, (86 per cent) and many are aware of the recommended daily guidelines (69 per cent) but only 13 per cent keep a check on the number of units they drink. In the UK, 75 per cent of people support labelling.

Labels with unit information will help people keep an eye on how much they are drinking, allowing them to monitor their alcohol intake more easily. The labelling information will be supported by a major cross-Government campaign on alcohol from 2008, a large part of which will be about raising unit awareness.

Labels will include:

The drink's unit content and the recommended Government safe drinking guidelines
UK Health Departments recommend men do not regularly exceed 3-4 units daily and women 2-3 units daily
Website - http://www.drinkaware.co.uk - detailing sensible drinking messages from the charity Drinkaware
For beer, wine and spirits, unit information will be given per glass and per bottle

In addition, the Government is also encouraging the alcohol industry to include sensible drinking information for pregnant women on labels. Avoid alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive is the shortened form of the Government advice announced on 25 May.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said;

"This landmark, voluntary agreement will help people calculate, at a glance, how much they are drinking and whether they are staying within sensible drinking guidelines. We want to make it as simple as possible for people to keep an eye on how much they are drinking and help them take the responsibility for lessening the impact excess alcohol can have on their health.

"Although most spirits and beer labels for sale in the UK market and many supermarkets' own brands of beers, wines and spirits, do carry some information on unit content people can miscalculate and lose track of how much they are drinking. Unit information combined with sensible drinking guidelines on the new labels will make it simpler for people to calculate how many units they are drinking and make easier for them to stick to the recommended limits.

"I would like to pay tribute to the drinks industry for their commitment to promoting a responsible drinking culture. We will continue to work closely with them on the voluntary introduction of this new labelling information and with them will monitor the effect of the agreement on peoples drinking habits."

British Retail Consortium Director General Kevin Hawkins, said:

"This is yet another practical demonstration of retailers' responsible attitude to selling alcohol. They have been actively involved in the development of this label and the concise and simple way it sets out information gives consumers an easy way to make informed decisions about how they enjoy alcohol. The BRC and its members will continue to look at
new ways to promote healthy lifestyles."

Kevin Byrne, Interim Chief Executive of Drinkaware, said:

"We welcome the new labelling on alcoholic drinks. We hope that by providing consumers with more readily accessible information it will enable them to make better choices about how often and how much they drink. This will also reinforce the more detailed sensible drinking messages on our website: drinkaware.co.uk."

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. The Drinkaware Trust is an independent charity, funded by the drinks industry, set up to promote responsible drinking. Drinkaware.co.uk website contains information on alcohol and health for consumers.

2. Most drinkers have heard of measuring alcohol consumption in units (86 per cent) and most are aware of the 'daily benchmarks' (69 per cent) but only 13 per cent keep a check on the number of units they drank.

3. Over 7.1 million English people are hazardous or harmful drinkers, which means that they are drinking more than the recommended guidelines.

4. A commitment to introduce a voluntary alcohol labelling agreement was set out in the 2004 Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy.

5. A Memorandum of Understanding sets out the agreement between the Government and alcohol industry.

6.The French logo for pregnancy and drinking may be used as an alternative to the words avoid alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive.

For enquiries please contact the Public Information Line on 0207 210 4850.

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