Latest data shows 85 per cent of drinks not labelled
The drinks industry is failing to adhere to a voluntary agreement
with Government on alcohol labels and just 15 per cent of drinks
give consumers enough information about units and health harms,
according to an independent report published today.
Under the voluntary agreement forged by the Government in 2007
the industry agreed to putting five key pieces of information on
labels: unit information; pregnancy advice; a message about
responsible drinking, a logo and link for Drinkaware; and the NHS
However, results continue to be disappointing even though they
show signs of improvement on 2008, when only six per cent of
labels met the standard.
Sections of the industry have performed extremely well and others
have committed to speeding up the process. However, taking account
of labels ‘in the pipeline’ would still mean only 19 per cent of
labels will be up to scratch in 2010.
Labelling is a crucial part of helping people make informed
decisions about how much they drink and what the risks could be of
drinking too much on a regular basis. To cement the way forward,
the Government is launching a consultation asking for views on how
best to improve unit and health information on the labels. It
offers three options to move forward:
do nothing and continue with the current voluntary
agreement;renew and strengthen the self regulatory agreement;
orintroduce a mandatory requirement on labelling.
Acknowledging the efforts some producers have made, Public Health
Minister Gillian Merron said:
"Despite responsibleefforts from some brands such
as Bulmers, Fosters, Kronenbourg and the major supermarkets,
overall progress on labelling is very disappointing.
“Whilst there should be no need to bring in legislation when the
industry can clearly sort it out themselves, we will not hesitate
to act decisively if industry does not deliver.
“I expect to see much more leadership from more of themajor
“We know that too many are drinking at harmful levels and
producers should play their part in helping to stem this tide by
ensuring we all have access to clear and consistent health
information on labels.”
Health Secretary Andy Burnham said:
"We have now received assurances to comply from most of
the major manufacturers and retailers.
“I invite industry as a whole to deliver on these assurances, and
look forward to finding a way to make this happen during the
The cider sector has made substantial progress and we can expect
further roll-out of the label content expected in the voluntary
agreement. This is also true of supermarket ‘own label’ products.
Some major beer producers are also making good progress, with
Heineken and Molson Coors providing good quality information on
Despite these improvements, sections of the drinks industry still
have much more to do to live up to their agreement.
Notes to Editors
A voluntary agreement on labelling was entered into with
Industry in 2007The Independent Monitoring on the Implementation
of Alcohol labelling was carried out for DH by Campden BRI.The
information was gathered in April 2009 alongside a new
consultation on options to improve labelling.The DH Consultation
starts today and runs until 9 May 2010. The Independent Monitoring
Report and Consultation can be accessed here.
four elements of information included in the voluntary agreement
i. the drink’s unit content, to the nearest decimal point; unit
content must always be shown per container; for wine and spirits,
this may be shown in addition per 125ml wine glass or per 25ml
ii. the recommended Government lower-risk drinking guidelines:
“UK Chief Medical Officers recommend men do not regularly exceed
3-4 units daily and women, 2-3 units daily”
iii. the website address of the independent charity, the
Drinkaware Trust – www.drinkaware.co.uk – or
as an alternative, the Drinkaware logo as set out at Annex A (iii)
iv. “Know Your Limits” or “Enjoy Responsibly” or‘Drink
Responsibly’ as heading
Those producers willing to do so were encouraged to include:
v. the short version of the reworded alcohol in pregnancy message
as agreed by the four Chief Medical Officers of the United
"Avoid alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive".
Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221