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Diageo commits to calorie labelling

Diageo is to provide nutritional information including calories per typical serving for all of its products – a first for any alcohol company.

How Diageo’s new labelling system will look in the US on a bottle of 750ml Blossom Hill Wine

The voluntary move will see the drinks producer provide nutritional information, including calorie content per typical serve, through Diageo’s responsible drinking website, and on product labels “subject to local regulatory approval, as soon as practicable.”

In the US Diageo has already gained regulatory approval for a voluntary “serving facts” panel for alcohol drinks that includes nutrition and alcohol per serve information.

Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo said: “Currently, there is no obligation to provide such information in markets worldwide, but we know that consumers are increasingly discerning about what’s in their glass. We want to provide alcohol and nutrition information that consumers can quickly understand, instead of expecting them to do the maths.”

The decision, which is intended to help consumers understand how much they are drinking and reduce the misuse of alcohol, was described as a “fine example” of Diageo’s commitment to responsible drinking by Ian Duncan, MEP for Scotland and Member of the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

“Providing both the nutrition and alcohol content of alcohol drinks, in an easy to understand ‘per serving’ format, is a major improvement on the confusing current system, where there are different measurements of alcohol units across the EU”, he said. “This is a hugely positive step and one that the European Commission should reflect on, as it considers how to tackle harmful drinking”

Currently alcoholics drinks are exempt in the EU from providing nutritional information on labels, despite other foodstuffs being required to do so per 100ml – an impractical measurement when considering the way in which consumers drink alcohol.

Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes

Diageo has said it will work with the EU to establish a standard alcohol unit across the 28 Member States to provide a universal way of communicating alcohol content to consumers.

The announcement was welcomed by others in the trade with Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association  calling it a “positive sign that the alcohol industry is committed to improving consumer awareness”.

“It also shows that individual companies are prepared to take action on a voluntary basis and importantly recognises that there are a variety of different ways in which consumers receive information about the products they buy”, he said.

“While many simply want to see the exemption for alcohol from labelling requirements removed, this will not provide an answer that is universally acceptable. It is important that industry works to find the best way to provide meaningful information to consumers and Diageo’s work is a welcome contribution to that.”

The UK drinks industry has already labelled 80% of products with key health information, with 90% carrying a warning about drinking while pregnant, as part of the Responsibility Deal backed by the Government.

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of The Portman Group added: “The industry also provides detailed consumer information on their websites and promotes and funds Drinkaware, the alcohol information charity. Diageo’s announcement is further proof that responsible companies are taking decisive action to help consumers make informed choices.”

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