Short shorts: Alcohol labelling

This is the first in a new series. Consultations in 200 words or less! This is the options for improv­ing inform­a­tion on the labels of alco­holic drinks to support consumers to make health­ier choices in the UK from the Department of Health.

Get your ideas, thoughts and evid­ence in for 9 May 2010, email

You’re not supposed to drink more than 3–4 units a day if you’re a man, or 2–3 if you’re a woman, but not many people know how many alco­hol units there are in differ­ent drinks, espe­cially wine.

The drinks industry agreed in 2008 to put labels on their drinks about:

  • how many units there are in a bottle, can or glass
  • how many units you should drink,
  • and warn­ings not to drink if you’re pregnant.

It hasn’t gone very well. They’ve been really slow to put the labels on, and some compan­ies haven’t done anything at all.

Time for a rethink. Should we:

  1. Let them keep their agree­ment and hope more people take it up
    We’d only get labels on 40% of drinks sold in the UK by 2012.
  2. Make another, stronger agree­ment with the drinks industry
    Nearly 75% of drinks sold here could have the labels by 2014.
  3. Make them put the labels on by law
    100% cover­age, but small busi­nesses might lose out and we might not get as much impor­ted alco­hol if foreign compan­ies don’t want to play by our rules.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all need to agree on what we’re doing.

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Corinne Pritchard

Information Designer at Simply Understand
I believe design and design­ers can and should make the world a better place. I love design­ing things that help people under­stand complex ideas.

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