Producers receive?warning over labels

19 February, 2010

Drinks producers have been told to comply with the voluntary code on drinks labelling or face legislation to make health warnings compulsory.

The Department of Health praised the level of compliance with the voluntary agreement by Heineken UK, Molson Coors, some cider producers and supermarket own-label, but singled out two major drinks producers it said were letting the side down.

The two are believed to be A-B Inbev UK and Carlsberg UK. Wine suppliers were also criticised.

A-B Inbev said it had now given an undertaking to comply with the voluntary labelling code, which requires drinks firms to include information on health and pregnancy, unit content, sensible drinking messages, Drinkaware information and recommended limits.

A spokeswoman for A-B Inbev said: “We have confirmed to the Health Secretary that we will support the government’s voluntary labelling regime.”?Carlsberg UK said in a statement that it would “contribute to the consultation

process constructively and will consider and support the recommendations when it is complete”.

Diageo has promised to include all five points on its packs by 2012.

The consultation published by the DoH outlines three future options: keeping the current regime?, a toughened voluntary code or a mandatory code.

The door is open for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to make their own rules, as previously reported in OLN.

In the consultation document?, both Scotland and Wales state they “need to be persuaded of the willingness and ability of the industry to deliver an acceptable level of compliance to a reasonable timescale”.

If UK legislation is pursued, draft regulations would be presented to the EU commission this summer.

The consultation document says that by last year only 15% of alcohol labels met all five key requirements laid out in the 2007 voluntary code.

Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said: “Despite responsible efforts from brands such as Bulmers, Foster’s and Kronenbourg, and the major supermarkets, overall progress on labelling is very disappointing.”?The DoH says it has received support for faster implementation from Greene King, Aston Manor and Concha y Toro.

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