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Warnings on Alcoholic Drinks Not Enough

Monday, February 15th, 2010 Warnings on Alcoholic Drinks Not Enough

The alcohol industry is not complying with an agreement to place health warnings on alcoholic drinks, according to the government.

It is estimated that only 15% of alcoholic drinks provide enough information about the health harms. The Department of Heath has said that they will need to consider whether compulsory labelling will be introduced if the current voluntary agreement fails.

Gillian Merron, Public Health Minister, said that the progress was “very disappointing”.

She added: “Whilst there should be no need to bring in legislation when the industry can clearly sort it out themselves, we will not hesitate to act decisively if industry does not deliver.

“I expect to see much more leadership from more of the major producers.
“We know that too many are drinking at harmful levels and producers should play their part in helping to stem this tide by ensuring we all have access to clear and consistent health information on labels.”

The voluntary code is an agreement between the government and the drinks industry, forged in 2007.

Under the code, the majority of alcoholic drinks must display information on the number of units in the drink, the daily safe drinking limits, the Drinkaware Trust website, a warning to pregnant women and a message about responsible drinking.

The number of drinks manufacturers meeting these guidelines has increased from 6% in 2008, to 15% in 2009. In 2010, it is projected that 19% will meet the standards.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, Norman Lamb said: “The alcohol industry agreed to start using these labels yet three years later they still haven’t complied.

“This makes a mockery of their claims to be socially responsible and we now have to consider the case for mandatory warnings.

“It’s clear that voluntary agreements with large sections of the alcohol industry aren’t worth the paper they are written on.”

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