Friday, 10 April 2015

0,5l of beer or a chocolate bar?

The Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, which entered into force in December 2014, exempts producers of alcoholic beverages (containing more than 1,2% by volume of alcohol) from publishing a list of ingredients or a mandatory nutrition declaration on their products (Article 16 Par 4). The Commission was supposed to produce a report on the need to include this information on alcohol labels in December 2014, but this report has so far been delayed (Delayed Commission report on alcohol labelling frustrates beer industry) (partially due to problems with defining "alcopop" drinks, which mix alcohol with soda or juice). In the meantime, according to BEUC, few consumers are e.g. aware that a half litre of beer (5% alcohol) contains approx. 220 calories - the same can be found in a chocolate bar (BEUC demands bolder EU action on alcohol labelling), therefore, alcoholic drinks should not be treated any differently from other food and drink products. 

The Brewers of Europe representing the European beer industry (over 5000 breweries across Europe) took upon themselves a voluntary commitment to present this information to consumers even without the mandatory provisions to this extent (Commission applauds beer industry's move on labelling). One of the issues that may prove problematic in sufficiently informing consumers about alcohol's nutritional values is that the serving size is usually bigger than 100ml that serve as a reference points for most consumers when comparing calories etc. in food and drinks. It could, therefore, be valuable to add also information on a standard serving size of a given product and its nutritional value. Also Diageo, producer of such well-known alcohol brands like Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff, has also last month committed to voluntarily provide nutritional information (per typical serving) for all of its products (Diageo's Nutrition Labels Give Industry Something to Digest). 

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