Fact-check: Support for alcohol health labelling

Benefit from this? Why not high five, support or syndicate? ✋

The alcohol industry’s Portman Group (PG) is using a study it co-funded to resist calls for providing health information on alcoholic drink labels. Here’s a look at what the study actually says.

PG says the study shows there is “strong opposition to cramming more information on pack”


The study says:

  • “Including CMO [Chief Medical Officer] guidance is seen as essential if alcohol labels are also going to include information on the units in the drink” (p26). [Note: PG removed the CMO guidance from its labelling standard in autumn.]
  • In a Manchester focus group there was “support for health warnings on alcohol labels” (p33)
  • Suggestions ranged from the relatively mild “Alcohol harms your health”, to much stronger cigarette-style warnings and images (p33)

 

PG says: 80% say they would “like to see less cluttered labels”

The study says:

  • 80% want a small amount of health information in bigger and clearer fonts and symbols (p52)
  • The relative importance given to different messages is shown in the chart below, with health warnings thought more important than the “drink responsibly” message (p36)
  • At most one-in-ten supported the idea of putting information online, something PG is advocating (light grey columns)

PG says: There is “little public interest in a radical overhaul of drinks labelling”

The study says:

  • “70% feel the balance between health information and product/brand information is about right” (p3). The question referred to the space allocated, not the content.
  • “Careful decisions need to be made about what to include, and where, and a balance struck between the font sizes and amount of content” (p4)

 

PG says: 86% of consumers “only look at labels for factual information and branding”

The study says:

  • 86% say they use alcohol labels (p18)

 

Further findings:

  • “Alcohol is thought of predominantly through the frame of having fun. This means it is disassociated from health-related behaviours like diet and exercise” (p3)
  • “This distinction is made possible because of a belief that the negative health consequences of alcohol are experienced primarily by alcoholics” (p11)
  • In focus groups only two health-conscious women observed there is “much less information about the nutritional content” of alcoholic drinks than other food and drink products (p17)

 

Benefit from this? Why not high five, support or syndicate? ✋