Portman Group hits back at AHA labelling claims
Claims by the Alcohol Health Alliance that alcohol labelling in the UK is “woefully inadequate” have been dubbed “nonsense” by industry body the Portman Group.
The Alcohol Health Alliance, which campaigns for policies to reduce alcohol-related harm, has released a survey called “Drinking in the Dark”, in which it lays out a number of apparent findings after examining the labels of 424 alcoholic drinks across the UK.
The survey is in effect a rehash of exactly the same exercise the group conducted in 2018.
The purpose was to determine whether they provided up-to-date information such as the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) revised weekly guidelines of a maximum 14 units.
The survey concluded that 70% of bottles examined did not carry the information on safe drinking limits, nearly a quarter carried out of date information and much of what was displayed was not easily legible.
It was also noted that of the 199 labels examined that did not carry “any” drinking guidelines, 158 instead included a link to the Drinkaware website.
This, the report said, “would require a potential buyer to get online and navigate the website to find the information about drinking guidelines,” and was not acceptable.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the AHA, said: “The alcohol industry has been dragging its heels for four years in updating product labelling to display current CMO drinking guidelines. It is simply outrageous that the vast majority of products still fail to include up-to-date health guidelines. The message is clear: the alcohol industry is not taking the nation’s health seriously and cannot be trusted to regulate itself.
“It is time for the government to introduce mandatory labelling on all alcohol products with prominent health warnings, information on ingredients, nutrition and calories. We all have a right to know what we are drinking and mandatory labelling will help consumers make informed decisions about their health.”
The report took aim at industry regulatory body, Portman Group, with claims that just 2% of bottles produced by its members included the correct guidelines.
The group, whose members include Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Carlsberg, Budweiser, Heineken and Brown-Forman among others, hit back strongly however.
CEO John Timothy, said: “This report is utter nonsense, based on out of date information and the typical anti-alcohol ideology of the AHA who can’t stand the fact that the moderate majority can sensibly enjoy a drink and stick within the 14 unit guidance.”
IN response to claims about inaccurate labelling on the part of its members he added: “Take just two of our Portman Group members, Heineken and Budweiser Brewing Group, who represent over half of the UK’s beer and cider market.
“They already carry full CMO guidance on over 60% of their products and they will have nearly completed the process by the end of the year. On nutrition information over 95% of products carry this on labels. Our members are leaders in the industry, ensuring that for over 30 years that the sector is responsible and in that time have seen significant declines in alcohol consumption, youth drinking, drink driving and alcohol related crime.”