Booze brands skirting labelling responsibilities

As per a recent research, the alcohol industry is not meeting its 'Responsibility Deal' labelling pledges.

Washington DC: As per a recent research, the alcohol industry is not meeting its 'Responsibility Deal' labelling pledges.

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine study has found that the signatories to the Public Health Responsibility Deal alcohol labelling pledge are not fully meeting their pledge. Labelling information frequently falls short of best practice, with fonts and logos smaller than would be accepted on other products with health effects.

The UK Public Health Responsibility Deal was launched in 2011 as a public-private partnership among industry, government, public bodies and voluntary organisations.

Organisations involved make voluntary pledges designed to improve public health. Over 100 organisations have signed the alcohol labelling pledge, promising to ensure that over 80 percent of products on shelf will have labels with clear unit content, NHS guidelines and a warning about drinking when pregnant.

This pledge consists of three required elements: (1) The number of units in the drink, (2) the Chief Medical Officers' daily guidelines for lower-risk consumption, and (3) a warning about the risks of drinking while pregnant. Accompanying guidance states that this information should be clear, legible, displayed on the primary packaging and not difficult for consumers to find. Companies are encouraged to use a font size no smaller than the main body of information.

One finding of particular concern was that the pregnancy logo was significantly smaller on wine bottles than on beer/lager/cider containers (5.1mm vs 7.1mm). In the UK, men are more likely to drink beer than women, and women are more likely to drink wine.

New labeling guidance could be derived from existing guidance on medicines, tobacco packaging and other products which, like alcohol, carry known health risks. Compliance with labelling guidance also needs to be monitored and reported on independently of industry bodies.

Lead author Mark Petticrew said that alcohol labelling can help consumers make an informed choice about health risks and about consumption, so it is important that it is clear and legible. Our findings suggest that this is very often not the case.

The study is published online in the journal Addiction.