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Spirits Europe takes calorie campaign to Brussels metro

Trade association Spirits Europe has launched a consumer campaign on the Brussels metro backing its stance that calorie information for alcoholic drinks should be given per glass.

Spirits Europe has taken out ads on the Brussels metro in support of its campaign for alcohol calorie content to be given by the glass
Spirits Europe has taken out ads on the Brussels metro in support of its campaign for alcohol calorie content to be given by the glass

The campaign sees advertisements displayed across 12 metro stations, including Gare du Midi, the largest station in Brussels, and Malbeeck and Schuman for the European Commission offices.

According to the body, it makes “no sense” for nutritional information for alcoholic drinks to be given per 100ml, and it is arguing for calorie content to be stated per glass.

100ml often represents a “fraction” of beer and wine consumed in one serving, but it can equal up to three servings of spirits – beyond some countries’ maximum daily recommended intake, the association notes.

According to Spirits Europe figures, per 10g serve a 40% spirit provides fewer calories than 100ml of wine and 250ml beer (68 versus 74 and 106 respectively.

If calories are given per 100ml, the spirit provides 222 calories, versus 70 for wine and 43 for beer.

Of the small percentage of calories attributable to alcohol, beer accounts for just over half, while wine accounts for 30% and spirits just 20%, the trade association adds.

The campaign is also intended to raise awareness of and drive traffic to the organisation’s website, which is also promoted at national level through brand advertising.

Alcoholic drinks are currently exempt from some parts of the current European Food Information to Consumer Regulation that requires nutritional labelling, but a report is expected shortly with an update.

“We want consumers to receive meaningful information to enable them to take informed decisions” said Paul Skehan, director general of Spirits Europe.

“We fully agree we should provide information on calories and alcohol content; we want this information to be given per serving, on the basis of 10g of alcohol per glass, and not per 100ml.

“We strongly believe that using 100 ml as a reference point for alcoholic beverage makes no sense, is deceptive and will confuse rather than inform consumers.”

Skehan adds that consumers should not confuse messages about calorie content with responsible drinking, which have now been promoted for decades.

“We are committed to promoting the use of smart, innovative ways to inform consumers, rather such as websites, QR codes, apps, logos, etc. and to accompany these online initiatives by combined wider communication efforts, through various supports and solutions, to ensure that consumers are far more aware than at present that the information is available,” concluded Skehan.

In addition to its campaign work, Spirits Europe is also lobbying Brexit teams. In July, Skehan said called for negotiators to “make Brexit work” as the UK prime minister moves closer the triggering of Article 50.

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