Doctors Call For Better Booze Labelling

A group of leading medics, the BMA Scotland, has called on the Government to legislate for the introduction of compulsory labelling on all alcoholic products.

They said today that the move would help people understand and manage their drinking habits.

The call comes on foot of Scotland's Alcohol Awareness Week (5 - 11 October) and underlines what the doctors said is a a lack of consistent advice and information on alcohol content - and what constitutes a recommended unit.

The doctors said that people are confused as to the amount of alcohol they actually drink.

Recent research has shown that the drinks industry is flouting the current voluntary code on labelling with 43% of products containing no information and only 3% providing all the information required.

The BMA believes that compulsory standards for labelling alcoholic beverage containers that provide guidance on recommended drinking guidelines would enable people to make informed choices on alcohol.

The medics said that the Scottish Government should no longer accept this failure by the industry to adhere to voluntary measures and should legislate to ensure consistent information is available to consumers to help tackle alcohol misuse.

Dr Peter Terry, Chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said: "We should all use Alcohol Awareness Week to think about the amount of alcohol we drink. Binge drinking and alcohol misuse can create serious problems, not just for the person drinking too much but for their family and friends.

"Unfortunately, many people are confused as to how much alcohol is in each drink. This can lead to binge drinking or regularly drinking over and above the recommended allowance, which brings with it a host of social, psychological and physical problems.

"The drinks industry agreed to a voluntary code to label drinks with their alcohol content in 1998. Yet, 10 years on, it is not working and it is time for Government to take tough action," he said, insisting that legislation is the only way forward.

"We are disappointed that standardised labelling has not been included in the Scottish Government's plans to tackle Scotland’s drinking problem, and only hope that this oversight will be revised."

In a survey of Scottish doctors, more than eight out of 10 doctors believe that alcoholic drinks manufacturers should be compelled to clearly label their products with the number of alcohol units.

The BMA believes that there should be a legal requirement for all containers of alcohol to carry a prominent common standard label which clearly outlines the alcohol content in terms of units, information on the maximum recommended daily level of alcohol consumption, and a warning of the dangers of excessive drinking.

Dr Terry added: "It is the responsibility of the drinks industry, both producers and retailers, to ensure that their customers are fully aware of the alcoholic content of the beverages they purchase and the potential harmful consequences of excess consumption."


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