Packaging Innovation
alcoholic beverage labels in UK
April 5, 2018

Labels for alcoholic beverages in the UK may be set to change

While food labeling regulations are becoming stricter each day, alcoholic beverages in the UK somehow managed to fly under the radar – until now. To put a stop to what they call the consumer’s ‘awareness vacuum’ on the health effects of alcohol, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is now urging drink manufacturers to make considerable changes to alcoholic beverage labels.

“Alcohol continues to lag behind”

Research shows that only 1 in 6 consumers is aware of the 14-unit guideline and the conditions and diseases excessive alcohol consumption can cause. As consumers are growing increasingly conscious about labels and most Millennials can’t even imagine tobacco packaging without explanatory warnings anymore, the RSPH finds it remarkable that no similar labeling regulations exist for alcoholic drinks. “Even though explanatory warnings are currently mandatory on several products like tobacco, food and soft drinks, alcohol continues to lag behind,” says Professor Shirley Cramer CBE of RSPH. “If we are to raise awareness and reduce alcohol harm, this must change.”

18,000 British adults

alcoholic beverage labels in UK But just how effective would mandatory labeling of alcoholic beverages be? Very effective, concludes Portman Group after conducting a survey of around 18,000 British adults. Mentioning calorie content, for one, could convince 1 in 10 consumers to opt for drinks with a lower alcohol percentage. Another survey, carried out by the University of Sheffield and Cancer Research UK, revealed that 90 percent of Britons are currently unaware of the connection between alcohol and cancer.

Must-read: What if alcoholic drinks came in plane packaging?

New labels for alcoholic beverages

Accordingly, the RSPH calls out to alcoholic beverage manufacturers to include the following information on their labels:
  • The number of units in the bottle
  • The 14-units-a-week guideline
  • Health warnings (alcohol may cause breast and bowel cancer)
  • A warning to not drink and drive
The Society also calls for traffic light colour coding similar to the one used for food items.

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