British retailers revamp alcohol labels

31st March, 2017 by Amy Hopkins

A trade association of British retailers has revised labels for alcoholic drinks sold in supermarkets to reflect strict new guidelines from the UK’s chief medical officers.

The British Retail Consortium has created new labels for alcohol bottles

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said its members have “taken a lead in encouraging more responsible behaviour towards alcohol” with the new labels.

The change follows the 2016 publication of rigorous new guidelines from the UK’s four chief medical officers (CMOs) – the first shakeup of UK alcohol guidelines in 20 years.

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Low Risk Drinking Guidelines state that “there is no level of regular drinking that can be considered as completely safe”. However if people choose to consume alcohol, the guidelines recommend “drinking evenly over three or more days”.

The guidance also states “the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all” if you are pregnant, or think you could become pregnant.

The new 14-unit recommended weekly limit for men is one of the lowest in the world, down from 21 units. The UK is now one of just a few countries that now issues identical advice for both men and women.

While the UK Department of Health issued guidance outlining principles of how to communicate the CMO recommendations, the document did not prescribe the manner in which the advice should be presented.

“The BRC and its members developed this revised label to ensure that the information passed onto customers about alcoholic products is based on the latest official medical guidance, and also helps customers to make informed choices,” said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at British Retail Consortium.

“As an industry, retail has long led the way in encouraging responsible drinking and we will continue to work with the public health community in this regard going forward.”

The BCR said the pace at which its revised labels will be rolled out “has no fixed timetable” and will depend on each retailer’s individual process for changing labels.

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