Beverage giants warned not to claim ‘alcoholic water’ is healthy or a diet option

Beverage giants warned not to claim ‘alcoholic water’ is healthy or a diet option as UK sales of ‘hard seltzer’ surge after popularity in US

  • The craze for these ‘hard seltzers’ has come to UK supermarkets from the US
  • Brands have created their own versions designed to appeal to women
  • But watchdogs are concerned that companies are trying to make health, wellness and diet claims










The craze for these ‘hard seltzers’ has come from the US and British beverage brands and supermarkets have created their own versions designed to appeal to women (file photo)

Beverage giants have been warned not to try to cash in on the boom in “alcoholic water” by suggesting it’s a healthy or diet option.

The craze for these ‘hard seltzers’ has come from the US and British drink brands and supermarkets have created their own versions designed to appeal to women.

But watchdogs are concerned that companies are trying to make health, wellness and diet claims about the drinks, which are usually a mix of sparkling water and alcohol with a value of 4-6 percent.

And health experts worry they could look like soft drinks.

dr. Richard Piper, chief executive of campaign group Alcohol Change UK, said: ‘We are concerned about the similarity in packaging between some hard seltzers and their ‘soft’ equivalents.

“These products can look particularly appealing to underage drinkers and it’s further proof that products containing alcohol need clearer and more prominent health warnings to protect and inform us all.

“The advertising rules state that alcoholic beverages should not be presented as a healthy option and no weight management claims can be made.”

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued guidance to manufacturers after enforcing complaints about the marketing of several hard seltzers.

It said: ‘Hard seltzers have taken off this year and beverage manufacturers are piling up to give us their own unique spin.

“Ads for hard seltzer drinks have often associated them with a modern, conscious consumer who cares about what they put into their bodies.

“So marketers should be especially careful not to make illicit health or nutrition claims about hard seltzers, or to be misled about the amount of alcohol they contain.”

Earlier this year, the ASA confirmed complaints about several products, including a drink called Whisp.

The website described it as a “refreshing, low-calorie, slightly alcoholic sparkling water,” which was the “perfect accomplice of a balanced lifestyle.”

But watchdogs are concerned that companies are trying to make health, wellness and diet claims about the drinks, which are usually a mix of sparkling water and alcohol with a value of 4-6 percent.  Pictured: White Claw, accounting for over half of US hard seltzer sales, has launched in the UK

But watchdogs are concerned that companies are trying to make health, wellness and diet claims about the drinks, which are usually a mix of sparkling water and alcohol with a value of 4-6 percent. Pictured: White Claw, accounting for over half of US hard seltzer sales, has launched in the UK

A company called High-Water has been criticized by the ASA for marketing its hard seltzers on the basis that they contain less than 100 calories per can.

Social media posts for one brand called DRTY were banned for containing health and nutrition hashtags, including #lowcalorie, #nosugardiet, #zerosugar, #keto, #ketodiet, #carbfree and #nocarbs.

BrewDog was censored by the ASA after it used its marketing to mock the fact that it can’t officially describe its product – Clean & Press Hard Seltzer – as healthy.

On Instagram, it wrote: ‘Although Clean & Press has only 90 calories per can, with no carbohydrates or sugar and a little bit of alcohol, this is not a health drink. If you’re looking for a health drink, don’t drink Clean & Press.’

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