More drinks could be labeled “non-alcoholic” as part of a drive to get Brits to cut down on alcohol consumption.
Officials have launched a public consultation on raising the alcohol by volume (ABV) threshold for drinks to be considered “non-alcoholic” from 0.05 per cent to 0.5 per cent.
If given the go-ahead, many more varieties of low-alcohol beer, wine and prosecco would be officially awarded the title.
Health chiefs hope the move will encourage tens of thousands more Britons to choose a non-alcoholic drink and normalize alternatives to alcohol.
One in five adults in England drink more than 14 units a week (around six medium glasses of wine or six pints of four per cent beer).
For example, Lucky Saint, which is 0.5 percent ABV, Brewdog Alcohol Free Punk (0.5 percent) and Beavertown Lazer Crush Alcohol Free IPA (0.3 percent) could officially receive the label.
Consistently drinking above this level for years increases the risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease, liver disease and brain damage, studies show.
As things stand in the UK, drinks must be 0.05 percent ABV or less to be officially labeled “non-alcoholic.”
Drinks with a content less than 1.2 percent are “low alcohol.” This threshold is not under review at this time.
The consultation will seek views on whether the UK should follow in the footsteps of the United States, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Portugal and Belgium in allowing drinks to be 0.5 per cent ABV and classed as alcohol-free.
The highest threshold could see More non-alcoholic and low alcohol products on the market.
For example, Lucky Saint is 0.5 percent ABV. It is marketed as alcohol-free because it is made in Germany, even though it is only considered “de-alcoholized” in the UK.
Brewdog Alcohol Free Punk (0.5 percent) and Beavertown Lazer Crush Alcohol Free IPA (0.3 percent) would also officially receive the label, if the move goes forward.
Officials say this could encourage thousands more people to choose a nonalcoholic or low-alcohol drink to make healthier choices, moderate alcohol consumption and normalize alternatives to alcohol.
How much alcohol is too much?
To keep the health risks from alcohol at a low level, the NHS advises men and women to regularly drink no more than 14 units per week.
One unit of alcohol is 8g or 10ml of pure alcohol, which is approximately:
- half pint of low to normal strength lager/beer/cider (ABV 3.6%)
- a single small measure (25 ml) of liquor (25 ml, ABV 40%)
A small glass (125 ml, ABV 12%) of wine contains approximately 1.5 units of alcohol.
But the NHS warns that the health risk increases when drinking any amount of alcohol on a regular basis.
Short-term risks include injuries, violent behavior, and alcohol poisoning.
Long-term risks include heart and liver disease, stroke, as well as liver, bowel, moth and breast cancer.
People who drink up to 14 units per week are recommended to spread them evenly over three or more days, rather than drinking excessively.
Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are advised not to drink to reduce the risks to the baby.
Fountain: National Health Service
In turn, the measure could eliminate bureaucracy and increase business productivity, allowing the industry to more easily make non-alcoholic drinks, they say.
Public Health Minister Neil O’Brien said: “Non- and low-alcohol drinks are becoming increasingly popular and we are looking to continue supporting their growth.”
‘Many other countries around the world already allow more freedom in this regard.
‘Liberalizing labeling guidelines could also help people make more informed decisions about the drinks they buy.
“We want to encourage the growth of low or no-alcohol alternatives for those looking to moderate their alcohol consumption.”
The Government said the drinks would not be marketed to children and should not be consumed by them. The consultation will examine what the industry can do to limit young people’s access to these drinks, he added.
Officials are also asking for opinions on whether labeling guidelines should be updated so that manufacturers clearly display the ABV of any nonalcoholic or low-alcohol product on the bottle.
Marcos Salazar, executive director of the Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverages Association (ANBA), said: “As the no-alcohol or low-alcohol category continues to grow and offer more options to consumers looking to reduce their alcohol consumption , it is essential that there be coherence”. between the UK, Europe and other international markets in terms of labelling.
Matt Lambert, chief executive of The Portman Group, the trade group for alcoholic drinks producers in the UK, said: “We welcome the new consultation, which we hope will help achieve greater clarity on labels and encourage greater adoption of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages”. alternatives.
‘Our annual survey repeatedly shows that these products are already helping UK consumers moderate their alcohol consumption and avoid harms such as drink-driving.
“It is also an important opportunity to highlight producers’ ongoing commitment to marketing and selling these products responsibly to adult consumers.”
Emma McClarkin OBE, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: ‘The BBPA has been calling on the government to review low alcohol descriptors for many years.
‘We welcome proposals to align low alcohol descriptors with those of almost all other global markets.
‘This will create a fairer trading environment for British brewers and pub operators, stimulate innovation and growth in the low and no-alcohol category and provide much-needed clarity to British consumers.
“Labeling of low-alcohol drinks should be relevant and clear, and not risk confusing consumers.”
Regulatory Reform Minister, the Coun de Minto, said: “We want the public to know exactly what they are drinking and that is why the potential changes are so important.”
“This consultation will help deliver smarter regulations to ensure businesses are not overburdened, allowing businesses to focus on growth and innovation.”