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MEPs back calls for alcohol calorie labelling

Members of the European Parliament have backed calls for compulsory calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks following a vote yesterday at the European Parliament.

In a vote held yesterday, MEPs called for the European Commission to introduce a new law that would compel all drinks producers to include the calorie content of products on labels.

Currently, any alcoholic drink with an abv of more than 1.2% is exempt from EU regulations, which came into force in 2011, imposing nutritional labelling on food and drink.

While MEPs have registered their support of making calorie labelling on all alcoholic beverages mandatory, it could still take months, if not years, before the proposals become law.

Following the vote, MEPs have urged the Commission to table a legislative proposal for action by 2016 “at the latest”, and do more to tackle “cross-border sales of alcohol via the internet”.

MEPs also recommended that EU states consider implementing measures against the sale of “very cheap alcohol”.

Health experts insist that the move is a vital measure to tackle obesity, with a recent survey by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) revealing that 80% of adults questioned did not know or incorrectly estimated the calories in a large glass of wine. Many were completely unaware that alcohol contributed to the total calories they consumed.

Earlier this year Diageo became the first drinks producer to commit to calorie labelling saying it would be adding nutritional information to all of its products as soon as possible.

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

A spokesman for the Portman Group, which represents alcohol producers, said: “A number of drinks companies and retailers are already taking voluntary action when it comes to calorie labels.

“But we live in a digital age and should be thinking innovatively about how people access information, not just focusing on product labels which are limited in size and space.

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