Portman sides with supers

11 July, 2008

Homeless charity fails to convince watchdog to ban 50cl high alcohol cans

Superstrength lager will not be banned by the Portman Group despite a renewed attack from a leading homelessness charity.

Thames Reach complained that 50cl cans of Skol Super, Kestrel Super, Carlsberg Special Brew and Tennent's Super encourage dangerous drinking because they contain 4.5 units of alcohol - above the government daily guidelines. It claims the drinks are "as dangerous as crack cocaine".

But Portman's independent complaints panel disagreed that the can size automatically makes people drink more than they should, and said the producers were not breaching its code of practice.

The panel said the government issued sensible drinking advice "as guidelines rather than strict limits" and also said it was wrong to single out strong beers when ciders and wine were also high in alcohol and sold in containers that were not easily resealable.

Portman Group chief executive David Poley said: "While panel members appreciated Thames Reach's concerns, they decided that restricting container size would be inappropriate and liable to lead to inconsistencies.

"The phrasing of the government's sensible drinking advice raises questions over the rationality of treating four units as a strict threshold."

Thames Reach chief executive Jeremy Swain said Portman had been "completely discredited" by the panel's decision and called on brewers to restrict can sizes to 44cl, as Inbev has done with Tennent's Super.

He added: "In an ideal world we would like to see the product banned. But Inbev UK has to be applauded for taking the lead and setting an example to others

by reducing the can size and boosting

the price.

"I would urge Carlsberg, which has so far been depressingly impervious to our campaign, to respond to this brave step by reducing the can size of Special Brew and Skol Super at the earliest opportunity."

But the panel agreed

Kestrel Super breached the code because its marketing was dominated by references to its strength. Wells & Young's has agreed to


its packaging but expressed disappointment with the decision.

A spokesman said. "It was always believed that the images and text used within the packaging design were in line with Portman Group guidelines."

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