Alcohol safety labelling may be about to get worse

An apparent forward step on alcohol safety labelling last week may, in fact, signal that it is about to get worse.

The alcohol industry Portman Group (PG) says it agreed with the health department “for the removal of out-of-date information” by September 1st. But it does not mention adding current low-risk guideline amounts.

Adding the weekly guidelines is not among the minimum “best practice options”. Instead, PG offers advice on how to “reflect” weekly consumption guidelines it refers to as “revised” though current since January 2016.

PG emphasises it offers advice while ignoring the fact that none of its members are committed to follow it. So years of foot-dragging on safety labelling may yet morph into a full-blown reverse.

The health department agreed a September 1st deadline for the alcohol industry action in March 2017. The existence of the “grace period” was unknown until a speech by then junior minister Steven Brine in January.

Few may yet realise it, but the grace period may have just been quietly extended and also expanded to green-light alcohol suppliers to offer no weekly consumption guidelines at all. ■