Food and wine don't go together, say docs

29 June, 2007

Doctors are calling for a ban on selling alcohol alongside food in a move to crack down on binge drinking. The British Medical Association has put pressure on the government to end secondary siting of alcohol.

Doctors are calling for a ban on selling alcohol alongside food in a move to crack down on binge drinking.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has put pressure on the government to end secondary siting of alcohol.

Dr Chris Spencer-Jones, chairman of the BMA's public health committee, said: "Alcohol alters people's perceptions and behaviour, and we should always be mindful it's different from food and should not be so readily available. I want to see separate entrances and cash desks to signal it's not a safe foodstuff."

Isolating alcohol sales from food sales, said Spencer-Jones, would encourage customers to make more responsible choices: "Drinking has become a habit and it's the habituation of it that's ­frightening. I'm asking the supermarkets to play ball with a rising social tide of drinking. If people want to buy drink they will have to go to a separate entrance and be forced to spend five or 10 minutes of extra shopping time."

But the industry has hit back . Co-op category marketing manager Vicky Steel said: "It's not like cigarettes that have been proven to damage your health. It's not proven that drinking in moderation damages your health, so why have extra restrictions on purchasing alcohol? It's not encouraging binge drinking by selling alcohol alongside food."

Bargain Booze joint managing director Matthew Hughes said : "If you secondary site wine near food and try to encourage sensible consumption it's not encouraging binge drinking . The problem is a cultural one, not a retailing one."

Asda beer buying manager CJ Antal-Smith said most alcohol in supermarkets is bought "in stock and then drunk over a period of time". She added that Asda had recently rejected plans to make its BWS department completely separate: "Once we had analysed basket spend, we found that 10 per cent of consumers buy alcohol solely . It wouldn't make sense and it would piss off customers."

Wine & Spirit Trade Association chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: "Retailers take their responsibilities with regard to alcohol very seriously and work hard to ensure it's sold legally and with no inducement to irresponsible consumption."

He added he had not any seen evidence that "placing groceries near alcohol in store is necessarily problematic".




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