A1. Alcohol Labelling

“We will ensure that over 80% of products on shelf (by December 2013) will have labels with clear unit content, NHS guidelines and a warning about drinking when pregnant.”

The following provides background and supporting information to help organisations understand what this pledge sets out to achieve and how, by becoming a Responsibility Deal partner, you can help deliver this pledge.

What this pledge sets out to achieve, and why it is important

This pledge will increase people’s awareness and understanding of units, the lower-risk drinking guidelines and the Chief Medical Officer’s advice on drinking during pregnancy.

This pledge commits alcohol producers to label their products with unit and health information.

Improving consumer awareness of alcohol content and units in drinks can help people make informed choices about when and how much they drink.  It enables people to better measure their alcohol consumption and understand whether this is in line with the lower-risk guidelines.

In 2009, 90 per cent of respondents to an annual ONS survey said that they had heard of alcohol units, but only 63 per cent correctly identified that one unit was equivalent to half a pint of beer and only 27 per cent correctly said that an average 125ml glass of wine contained more than one unit.  Additionally, many people are unaware of the full extent of the health harms associated with drinking above the lower-risk guidelines.

If advice on alcohol is going to be meaningful, people must be able to put it into the context of their own drinking habits.  This means being able to more easily measure their intake and compare that against medical advice.

Benefits to public health

The NHS guidelines for lower-risk drinking is that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units per day and women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units per day.

Providing information on labels is unlikely to improve public health on its own, but it has an important role in supporting other interventions, such as personal advice provided by health professionals.

How you can deliver this pledge

Guidance on how to apply the various elements of the labelling pledge has been developed by the Department of Health and the Portman Group.

Your pledge delivery plan

Shortly after signing up, partners will be asked to provide pledge delivery plans, laying out how they intend to meet each of the pledges they have signed up to.  They will have up to 500 words to describe their plans for each pledge they are signed up to.  All delivery plans will be published on this website.

Reporting progress on your pledge

Partners will be asked to report on their progress by the end of April each year.  For some pledges, partners will be asked to report using pre-defined quantitative measures, while for others they will be asked for a narrative update.  Further information on the reporting arrangements for each pledge is available.  All annual updates will be published on this website.

We are currently developing a web-based system that will allow partners to complete their delivery plans and annual updates online from 2013.

Additionally, the Portman Group will be overseeing an independent audit of on-shelf labelling at the end of 2013 and will publish the results against the agreed criteria.  The monitoring and reporting process is also described in their guidance notes.

Partners signed up to this pledge.

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