Alcohol labels in UK

Alcohol labels agreed for end of 2008

New labels will appear on alcoholic drinks by the end of next year following an agreement between the government and the drinks industry. The aim, according to public health minister Caroline Flint, is to help people calculate how much alcohol they are consuming and stick to sensible drinking limits.

Government research showed that while 69 per cent of people were aware of the recommended daily guidelines, only 13 per cent kept a check on how much they drink.

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‘Although most spirit and beer labels… do carry some information on unit content, people can miscalculate and lose track of how much they are drinking,’ said Ms Flint. ‘We want to make it as simple as possible for people to keep an eye on how much they are drinking and help them take responsibility for lessening the impact excess alcohol can have on their health.’

The memorandum of understanding between the government and alcohol industry meant labels would carry information on the drink’s unit content and the government’s recommended safe drinking guidelines. The industry was also being encouraged to place warnings on the labels directed at pregnant women.

This followed new government advice that pregnant women, or women trying to conceive, should avoid drinking alcohol altogether. If they did, they should not consume more than one to two units of alcohol a week, and should not get drunk.

The advice, said deputy chief medical officer Fiona Adshead, was strengthened to ensure that no-one underestimated the risk that alcohol posed to a developing foetus.

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