European Commission publishes report on labeling

13 March, 2017

The European Commission has published its long-awaited report on the exemption granted to alcohol products from certain mandatory labelling requirements.

According to the UK’s Wine and Spirit Trade Association, outdated nutrition labels will not be forced onto alcohol products after the European Commission challenged the industry to come forward with proposals for providing consumers with information on the content of alcoholic drinks.

WSTA chief executive, Miles Beale (pictured), said: “We welcome the commission’s decision not to force mandatory labeling on alcohol at this stage and instead have turned to industry to come forward with the most effective way to properly inform consumers, without space limitations, in this digital age.

“The WSTA has offered alcohol calorie information on its website for two years, as have a number of drinks companies and retailers who all took voluntary action to help consumers find out more about their favourite drinks.

“Trying to cram more information on product labels which have limited space is a backward step. We should not be using 20th Century methods on a 21st Century issue. People who want to know more about what they are drinking are very capable of going online and finding out for themselves. The alcohol industry has shown they are ahead of the game on nutrition information and have for some time provided consumers with off–label calorific content of drinks,” said Beale.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) welcomes the commission’s invitation to the alcoholic beverages' industry to develop, within a year, a self-regulatory proposal aiming to provide information on ingredients and nutrition information of all alcoholic beverages. It says the commission has recognised the industry’s commitment to voluntary initiatives in this area.

The SWA says the scotch whisky industry supports providing consumers with relevant and useful information. There is a commitment to providing calorie information to consumers, but this must be done in a meaningful way.

It says it will study the European Commission’s proposals and consult with its members.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scotch Whisky Association acting chief executive, said: “The SWA welcomes the commission’s invitation for the alcoholic drinks industry to set out a self-regulatory way forward. We believe that scotch whisky should be consumed in a responsible manner, as part of a balanced diet. It is right that consumers have the information they need to make choices that fit with a healthy lifestyle, including calorie intake. The Scotch Whisky industry is therefore happy to provide meaningful information in a format that is simple to understand and linked with actual serving sizes, supporting consumer choice.”

Diageo, the largest premiumn drinks producer in the world, says it welcomes the publication of the commission's long-awaited report. it says it shares the aim of governments and health professionals around the world to tackle alcohol misuse and promote responsible drinking, and believes that better information is a necessary step to achieve this.

The report is said to open the way to greater collaboration between industry and European institutions. The report also makes it clear that companies are a necessary voice to create appropriate solutions to providing clear and useful information about alcohol to people, based on their needs, says Diageo.

Keywords: diageo, scotch whisky

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