DRINKS manufacturers should be forced to display calorie content and health warnings on bottles of beer and wine, according to campaigners, who say the alcohol industry has been “dragging its feet” over the issue.

Current laws only require firms to show the strength of alcohol, allergens and the container’s volume. 

Any other information, such as ingredients and calorie content is optional – setting it apart from the food and soft drinks industries.

Campaigners believe this is wrong for a product that causes 10 deaths every day in Scotland.

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New research carried out for Alcohol Focus Scotland found that just 23 per cent of Scots were aware of the recommended, maximum number of alcohol units (14) while only a quarter knew how many calories were in the average pint of beer.

It is unacceptable that a product linked to 10 deaths a day in Scotland continues to be exempt from laws

The alcohol industry agreed to update labels to display the Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) weekly guideline by September 2019. 

Research carried out by the Alcohol Health Alliance at the time showed that more than 70% of labels surveyed did not include the drinking guidelines and after the deadline the industry agreed with the Government.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, believes it is time for a change in the law.

She said: “Is it any surprise that so few Scots know the calorie content of drinks – or the Chief Medical Officers’ weekly low-risk drinking guideline – when this information is not routinely provided by alcohol producers? 

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“It is unacceptable that a product linked to 10 deaths a day in Scotland continues to be exempt from laws on labelling that apply to everything else we eat and drink.

“The alcohol industry have dragged their feet for long enough – unless labelling requirements are set out in law we will continue to be kept in the dark about what is in our drinks and what the health risks are. 

“We need reliable health and nutritional information directly on bottles and cans, where it can usefully inform our decisions.”

She described the forthcoming UK Government consultation on alcohol labelling as a “key opportunity” to take action.

Research carried out by YouGov found that 22% of the public could correctly estimate how many calories (67-200) were in a medium glass (175ml) of wine at 12% ABV while 61% did not know the number in a pint of beer (120-359).

Only 11% knew that a  single measure of spirits has 24-71 calories.

Almost half of Scots who took part in research, admitted they have consumed more alcohol than usual during the pandemic.

An unweighted major study involving more than 5,000 people using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, found that over a quarter (26.5%) were judged to be at either increasing risk, higher risk or possible dependence.

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Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: “Displaying basic product information, such as calorie content, empowers the consumer to make informed choices about what, and how much, they decide to drink. 

“Requiring the display of calorie content on alcoholic drinks would bring alcohol labelling in line with food and soft drink labelling and would help to address the fact that most adults in the UK do not know the calorie content of alcohol.

“It is concerning that only 18% of the public are aware of the CMOs’ drinking guideline. 

“Including this essential health information on the label, along with other legible important health warnings and drink drive and pregnancy warnings, would help educate the public about the risks associated with drinking and could help reduce alcohol harm by prompting behaviour change.”