UK: Alcohol Industry Fails Informing About Harm
Alcohol producers are failing to inform the public of the alcohol consumption guidelines and the health harms related to alcohol, according to new research.
Under the title “Right to know: Are alcohol labels giving consumers the information they need?” the report from the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) looked at the information included on alcohol product labels. It was carried out in May 2017, some 15 months after the updated guidelines were launched.
Researchers found that, of the 315 product labels reviewed across 27 locations in the UK, only one informed the public of the up-to-date low-risk weekly alcohol consumption guideline of 14 units a week.
Where labels did contain information on the guidelines, these guidelines were either out-of-date, or were the guidelines for the Republic of Ireland instead of the UK.
In addition, researchers found that no labels contained health warnings of the specific illnesses and diseases linked with alcohol.
Big Alcohol fail as self-regulation fails
The alcohol consumption guidelines were announced by the UK’s chief medical officers in January 2016. The guidelines are based on the latest evidence linking alcohol to illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, and are designed to enable people to make an informed choice about their alcohol intake.
At present, there are few requirements for what should appear on alcohol product labels. Alcohol producers, under a system of self-regulation, decide what to include.
Releasing their research, the AHA said that tougher rules were needed on alcohol labelling, to make sure alcohol producers inform the public of the health harms linked with their products.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the AHA, said:
There is something seriously wrong with the system when consumers in the UK are more likely to buy a produce containing the Irish alcohol guidelines rather than the current UK ones.
Self-regulation has failed. Instead of alcohol producers deciding what to include on labels, the government should now require all labels to contain the latest guidelines and information on the health conditions linked with alcohol.
Alcohol is linked with over 200 diseases and injury conditions, including cancer, heart disease and liver disease, yet awareness of these links is currently very low.
We know, for example, that only 1 in 10 people are aware of the link between alcohol and cancer.
The public have the right to know about the health impacts of alcohol, so that they are empowered to make informed choices about their drinking.”