Scottish Government
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Consultation on alcohol labelling

The Scottish Government, along with the other devolved administrations and Department for Health, has today launched a consultation on alcohol labelling.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said that if compliance with the existing voluntary code does not improve, then mandatory labelling will be a 'strong option'.

The voluntary agreement, which has not been universally implemented, states that labels should include:

  • Information on the number of units
  • A message about responsible drinking
  • A logo and link for Drinkaware
  • The recommended NHS limits
  • Advice on drinking when pregnant

Ms Sturgeon said:

"Many people now understand the importance of sticking to recommended guidelines when drinking and what the risks are if you drink too much. But it can be difficult to monitor your drinking if you don't know how many units are in each drink.

"That's why we believe it's important that the drinks industry play their part by making this information available.

"While some labels now include this information, far too many do not. This consultation makes it clear that, if the drinks industry does not act responsibly, the government will not hesitate to take action.

"Too many people are drinking far too much and more information to help people drink responsibly is vital if we are to tackle Scotland's battle with the booze."

The consultation includes three options:

  • Do nothing and continue with the current voluntary agreement
  • Renew and strengthen the existing self regulatory agreement
  • Introduce a mandatory requirement on labelling

Alcohol labelling is a devolved matter and any decision in Scotland will be for the Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament.

The alcohol industry entered a voluntary agreement on labelling in 2007.

Industry compliance with this agreement has been poor - just 15 per cent of labels provide all five elements, according to an independent report published by the Department of Health today.

The consultation begins today and runs until May 9.

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